Irish Left Archive: 2015 Review January 18, 2016Posted by Aonrud ⚘ in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
Before January has got away from us, I thought I’d give an overview of the Irish Left Archive for 2015.
Over the year the archive materials expanded from 406 to 459 documents (that’s one a week as usual, plus a bonus…), with several interesting additions filling gaps in the archive’s coverage. For example, the series of documents from the Official Sinn Féin/IRSP split and Republican feuds in 1975, which will be put together into a new collection on the site soon.
The reference side of the archive also expanded – there are regular new additions and updates to the outlines of the various organisations and publications listed. We also added direct links to relevant sections of other websites to make better use of external resources.
On the technical side, we expanded the information stored for each document. Extra bibliographical details meant we could include proper metadata, allowing document details to be automatically found by document managing software like Zotero or Mendeley. (As well as generally improving the site for the ‘Semantic Web‘ – for the curious, the site now has Dublin Core and COinS metadata and uses Schema.org structured markup, including any relevant VIAF numbers.).
I had a look at the most popular documents in 2015, so like a tenuous hits chart of Irish left history, here are the ten most visited of last year:
- Saor Éire Manifesto – Saor Éire
- Gralton, No. 2
- Orangeism – Myth and Reality – Connolly Association
- The Miner: Special Issue, June 30th, 1984 – National Union of Mineworkers
- United Irishman, Vol. 33, No. 12 – Sinn Féin (Official) (November 1975 edition)
- Irish Republican Bulletin, January 1964 – Clan na Gael & IRA Veterans of America, Inc.
- On the IRA: Belfast Brigade Area – Cork Workers’ Club
- Ireland, Autumn 1987 – Workers’ Party
- United Irishman, Vol. 33, No. 8 – Sinn Féin (Official) (August 1975 edition)
- An Solas, Vol. 2, No. 1 – Official Republican Movement
There are all sorts of updates and changes planned for the future, as ever. Various technical changes, if done properly (!), should largely go unnoticed. (Though I recall at least one enthusiast for Let’s Encrypt in the CLR comments, so the site should be switched to encrypted https soon). There are also a few new collections planned. I think these can be quite a useful way to highlight a particular subject or theme among the documents, so if anyone wants to delve in and pull a particular thread, ideas for further collections would be much appreciated.
So thanks to everyone who donated materials, took part in the discussions, and used the archive in the past year. Any new additions are always welcome, as well as suggestions for improvements to descriptions or the site generally – you can email us at email@example.com or let us know in comments.
Left Archive: Fightback: the Marxist Voice of Labour and Youth – Conference Special 2011 (International Marxist Tendency). January 18, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in International Marxist Tendency, Uncategorized.
To download the above please click on the following link. Fightback – March 2011
Many thanks to IEL for forwarding this to the Left Archive. This is an interesting and unusual document issued by the International Marxist Tendency. The IMT was the group established by Ted Grant and Alan Woods when they split from the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) and the UK section of the CWI, Militant over the latter’s decision to move away from entryism towards the establishment of stand-alone political formations (Socialist Party in Ireland and the Socialist Party (England and Wales)).
This document issued by the Irish section of the IMT is a brief two pages directed very clearly at the membership of the Irish Labour Party in advance of the decision to enter government with Fine Gael in 2011. As can be expected the IMT takes a strongly antagonistic stance to that decision.
Labour needs to lead a struggle against austerity both in the Dáil and among the working class. A clear programme would demand no more cuts. Workers shouldn’t be made to pay for the bosses crisis…
And it has three core demands.
No coalition with Fine Gael
Labour needs a Socialist Programme
The history of the IMT in Ireland is of considerable interest. Did many people stay with it and does it still have a presence? Any contributions to the discussion are very welcome.
Was my da a provo? January 11, 2016Posted by guestposter in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Uncategorized.
My da died in 2002. In his twenties, he had been a member of Ailtirí na hAiseirghe. I referred to that on here when the book on that extreme right, extreme nationalist, extreme Catholic, sometimes anti-semitic movement, Architects of the Resurrection, was being discussed. I was born in 1960 so from the time I started becoming aware of politics, say the early seventies on, I would have always seen him as a fairly traditional nationalist – a Haughey FF supporter. Michael Woods was a neighbour or ours growing up and my da had worked with him in the local community association. So he would have voted Woods. But on the north, he was FF Haugheyite republican. I wouldn’t have seen him as an out and out IRA supporter. I am sure he would have said he opposed the violence that killed innocent people but he would have had a sort of ambivalent attitude to the conflict. I remember one occasion when something was on the telly, probably about some proposed new “repressive” legislation from the southern government, when he got very agitated and said to my mam that if that happened “I’d join the IRA”. I’m pretty sure he would have meant the provo IRA and not the sticks! So like a lot of people in the south, he would have sympathised with the plight of nationalists in the north. I think he would have met the criteria for what some people called “fellow travellers” of the Provos.
He hated Conor Cruise O’Brien with a special passion. I remember he came home from work half cut on the day of the count of the 1977 election and he was elated. FF was sweeping in with a tidy majority and Cruise O’Brien and other hate figures were losing their seats. After that, whenever Cruise O’Brien would be quoted on the radio or telly, me da would go into an inarticulate rage and roar ‘bullshit, bastard’ and the like. I think he did say to me one time that he had his own special reason for hating the Cruiser – he had voted for him in 1969 before Cruise O’Brien’s strongly anti-republican views on the north were much out in the open.
In a not unusual father-son thing, me and him found it hard to talk much about stuff. But I found myself taking a quite different political path to my da. I joined the WP in 1985. I’m sure he knew that but we didn’t talk about it. Two sentences into a conversation about politics, I or both of us would become inarticulate with rage. And we’d leave it there. Move to a safer subject or embrace the silence.
I remember the night Pat McCartan got elected for the WP in 1987. I had campaigned for him and was keenly following the radio reports of the count. But Ireland were playing Scotland on the telly in the Euro qualifiers and I had to take a break from the radio to watch Mark Lawrenson score the goal that helped us to qualify. When I came back into the kitchen, da gleefully told me that FF were going to take three out of the four seats in Dublin Nth East. This meant McCartan had lost and my ma could see that I was disgusted and maybe about to lose the rag but she calmed things down the way only my mammy could. I said nothing as the night wore on and McCartan overtook Sean Haughey who was transfer-friendless. I didn’t rub it in with the da. Looking back now, I’ve mixed feelings about McCartan winning that night!
Why did I join the WP? I came to some kind of socialist understanding as a young man – that society was class-based and that where you ended up in society depended mainly on what class you were born into. And that that wasn’t right. I think that understanding was facilitated by the particular suburb I grew up in – in a nice middle-class area just beside a large newly-built Corporation estate. That’s the socialist bit but what about the WP’s take on the north? Why did I take to that? Was it an unconscious attempt to get my da’s attention? He was an old-style da, more stand-offish and uninvolved than even your typical da of the time. In going all anti-traditional nationalist republican, was I really just saying ‘Da, look at me’? I dunno. My brother was and is a provo in all but name. And he could talk even less with our da than I could!
So that was me and me da. Here I am now and there he is now, in airde sna Flaitheas ag gáirí is dócha. But anyway, I was over in my mam’s a few weeks back and I took the dog for a walk and got drownded wet. So I went into the da’s bedroom to see if there were any dry trousers I could put on. And there at the bottom of the shoe cupboard I found a large brown envelope addressed to my da in his place of work, no stamp. He worked in a large semi-state transport company all his life. So this envelope, marked private and confidential, must have come in the internal post. And it contained the document attached to this post – a Sinn Féin Kevin St press release from 1971, introducing their carefully typed and well presented economic and social policy. So all kind of questions and speculations jumped about in my head. Who sent it to my da? Who wrote the SF policy on transport? Pure speculation but I think that Seán Ó Brádaigh, Ruairi’s brother, worked in the same company as my da. So he could have sent the document to him – maybe as SF were attempting to recruit anyone who they thought might potentially sign up with them. And my da could have written or contributed to their policy on transport. But the big question in my head, and for an old ex-stick like me this is a pretty serious question, is ‘Was my da a provo’?
Left Archive: Rosc Catha, Published by Clann na Éireann (Official Sinn Féin), Vol. 1, No. 1, October 24th, 1972 December 21, 2015Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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To download the above please click on the following link. ROSC 1972
Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.
This is the first edition of the Clann na hÉireann newspaper, Rosc Catha. Clann na hÉireann was the support organisation for Official Sinn Féin in Britain.
Cathal Goulding writes a welcome for the new publication:
The contribution of the Irish emigrant community to the struggle for freedom at home has been immense in the past. They will continue to play an important role in the fight for the final emancipation of the Irish people and the establishment of a Socialist Republic.
Clann has taken a major step towards mobilising emigrants effectively for this fight in its launching of an emigrants’ paper. Through the paper it can educate and organise the mass of emigrants to fight to reclaim their birthright. It can also break through the mesh of lies by which the British establishment seeks to distort events in Ireland and divide Irish revolutionaries from the best elements in the British Labour movement.
A union of the most conscious elements amongst the British working class and Irish workers in Britain is one of the most important tasks facing those committed to the establishment of a 32 county Socialist Republic.
Tomás MacGiolla, writing as President of Sinn Féin, also provides a welcome. He notes that the name of the paper is as follows:
Non-Irish readers might like to know that it can be translated ‘Battle-song’, (but not, wits should note, ‘War-Cry’ – that would be Gáir Chatha). More generally, however, it means a call to arms or an exhortation before a battle. The policies and attitudes in these pages constitute such an exhortation. This paper is not meant simply to be informative. Its function is to rally all those who refuse to accept injustice, exploitation and tyranny to do battle, so that these evils may be abolished for ever. They are man-made. They can be destroyed by men.
The newspaper is eight pages long and has a broad range of articles. These include pieces on the recent builders strike, the IFA, eviction in Ireland, a full page on the eighth Clann Ard Fheis. This is interesting in relation to its exhortations for the Clann to ‘be tireless in impressing upon British Socialists and Trade Unionists the truth of Marx’s considered judgement, that for the English workers ‘the national emancipation of Ireland is no question of abstract justice, of humanitarian sentiment, but the first condition of their own emancipation’. It notes the common enemy, capitalists. It also notes that the object in relation to emigrants is to ‘ raise class consciousness and raise national consciousness’. And intriguingly it has a considerable emphasis on the Irish language.
There’s a page on the Prisoner’s Aid Committee – focusing in part on Eamonn Smullen and a review by Peter Berresford-Ellis of Garret Fitzgerald’s book, Towards a New Ireland. Connolly features in a page long meditation on his thoughts on North-East Ulster and the Orange Working Class. There’s also a long piece on Communism, the Church and the Working Class.
Irish Left Archive: Outline Policy on Northern Ireland – Democratic Socialist Party, 1981 December 7, 2015Posted by WorldbyStorm in Democratic Left, Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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To download the above please click on the following link. DSPNI
Many thanks to Bobcat for forwarding this and other documents to the Archive.
At five pages of text this is a short document and one of a series of Outline Policy documents issued by the Democratic Socialist Party. It is divided into three sections. Self-determination, Are the Unionists serious? and The Settlers.
It gives an outline of the then conflict which it describes as ‘Catholic nationalists are in conflict with Protestant unionists’. It argues that:
The DSP believes that it is time to accept the right of the Protestant unionist majority in Northern Ireland to opt out of the Irish nation-state and, corresponding, the duty of the Catholic nationalist minority to accept the democratic limits of their position as a national minority within the UK. Articles 2 and 3, which deny all this, must be repealed.
If the movement for a united Ireland seemed capable of succeeding, and if a system of politics uniting Catholic and Protestants and expanding their freedom and prosperity seemed implicit in its success, the DSP would be energetically anti-partitionist. We believe, on the contrary, that the limit of possible success for the anti-partitionist movement is an all-Ireland sectarian cvil war, followed at most by a repartition. Ulster Protestant resistance to an all-Ireland state could not conceivably be contained or in the foreseeable future exhausted. But we believe that the IRA can be exhausted physically (by the withdrawal of active support in the Northern Catholic community) and morally (by the withdrawal of support on basic principle in the Republic – the repeal of Articles 2 and 3 in particular).
It suggests that:
…afterwards, when once the Northern Catholics come to terms with their position s a national minority in the UK they cannot easily be excluded from the UK’s class politics.
Under the section ‘Are the Unionists serious?’ is the following:
Historic attachment to Britain, opposition to the power of the Catholic Church in nationalist Ireland, and economic interests are important strands in the Protestant motivation. But most of all, the Protestants want to survive. Nationalism, they believe, threatens their survival (as unionism manifestly does not threaten the survival of Northern Catholics). Considering the Protestant community in the Republic which has fallen in the course of 60 years from 12% of the population to about 3% can that be called a bad judgement?
Under the heading of ‘The Settlers’ the piece concludes by suggesting that ‘an illusion that Ulster Protestants, despite everything they said and did, belonged to ‘the Irish nation’ has delayed the inevitable decision to come to terms with them’. And it also argues that:
Since the Ulster Protestants did not exterminate the natives in their region, their position is not now as strong physically (or, perhaps, morally?) as the position of the white Americans or Australians. Nevertheless, it is tenable. They have made an Industrial Revolution while they haven den in Ireland, and such achievements count for something. They are in Ireland to stay. The sooner this is accepted, the sooner they will modify their terms to accommodate the Catholics who live amongst them – and the sooner politics in NI will cease to hinge on a simple and arid political/religious hostility which does so much less than justice to the capacities of its people.
Left Archive: Books for Anarchists, WSM Bookservice, Summer/Winter 1998, Workers’ Solidarity Movement November 30, 2015Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Uncategorized, Workers Solidarity Movement.
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To download the above please click on the following link. WSM BOOK
Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.
This four page document is produced by the Workers Solidarity Movement as part of their WSM book service, listing volumes that they can supply. The materials are grouped under headings, The Anarchist Idea, Ireland, Other Countries and Other Titles. As such it provides an interesting insight into the range and scope of publications provided by the WSM book service and its sense of the foundational texts and others of contemporary anarchist thought and practice.
Left Archive: Irish Workers’ Road to Freedom – Manifesto of the Irish Workers’ League, Irish Workers’ League, June 1949 November 9, 2015Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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To download the above please click on the following link. irish-workers-league
Many thanks to David Convery of the Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour and Class at NUIG for forwarding the scanned version of this document to the Archive. It is an important addition to the collection.
This document issued under the name of the Irish Workers’ League is the manifesto of the same group, which was the southern section of the Communist Party of Ireland which had suspended its activities in the South, while in the North the Communist Party (Northern Ireland) was established. In 1948 the Irish Workers’ League was established, and in 1962 took the name the Irish Workers’ Party prior to merging with the CPNI in 1970.
At seven pages of text it is quite short. The first page reprints quotations from James Conolly including:
In the Socialist movement the North and South will again clasp hands, again will it be demonstrated, as in ’98 that the pressure of a common exploitation can make enthusiastic rebels out of a Protestant working class earners champions of civil and religious liberty out of Catholics and out of both a united Social democracy
The main body of the Manifesto is organised in sections that deal with the political situation in Éire, American Imperialism, antagonism to military blocs, the Aims of the IWL and a call to workers to unite.
It notes in the introductory words that:
In the world today the common people everywhere are in revolt against imperialism, fighting for the right of self-determination and for the abolition of social injustice and inequality. Everywhere the rule of the imperialists is challenged by the growing movement of the militant working class and the nationally-oppressed peoples. In the new People’s Democracies of China and Europe, following the removal of the old ruling classes vast new opportunities are opening up of the mass of the people who are working towards Socialism. The Soviet Union, the land of Socialism, having mad=de good the enormous devastation of war and invasion is now stronger than ever and is an inspiration to people everywhere struggling for freedom.
It continues that:
Ireland has always played her part in the great fight for freedom and democracy; she must not remain inactive now. Our country has yet to win its national unity and independence. By an Act of the British Parliament Ireland was partitioned. This action was not seriously opposed by the quisling section of Irish capitalists which then held and once again dominates the Government of the Twenty-Six Counties. Six of our northern counties are held in military occupation, and the industries and resources of the area are directed to serve British imperial interests.
In relation to then contemporary political events in Ireland it noted that:
In the present Coalition Government we have leaders of the Labour movement acting as junior partners to Fine Gael – notorious in Irish history for its shameless betrayal of the national struggle, its consistent support, both in and out of power for big business and ranching interests, and above all, its organisation of the Fascist Blueshirt movement.
It looks to the Soviet Union…
In this fight for freedom our prospects today are brighter than ever, with Socialism triumphant in the Soviet Union, the People’s Democracies rapidly advancing towards the same goals; unjust governments falling everywhere, not only in Europe, but in Asia and the far Pacific, and the age-old enemy of the Irish people, the British Empire…
And it regards itself as:
…[raising]the Socialist banner of Connolly, and summons the working people of Ireland to rally around it, and continue the fight for full national and social independence.
Of note are the outline of ‘Our Aims’:
1. The establishment of a United, Independent and Democratic Republic for all Ireland.
2. The restoration of the unity and independence of the Labour and Trade Union Movements.
3. The raising of the people’s living standards and the fullest utilisation of the nation’s resources.
4. The preservation and extension of democratic rights and liberties.
5. The establishment of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and the New Democracies and with all countries offering their friendship and repudiation of all war alliances and secret agreements.
Notably it does not mention its fraternal party in Northern Ireland.