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Fanaticism and Tyranny: A Revolutionary Speaks January 7, 2015

Posted by Garibaldy in Republicanism.
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When fanaticism, born of the monstrous union of ignorance and despotism, invented in its turn the crime of divine lèse-majesté, when it conceived in its delirium the project of avenging god himself, was it not necessary that it offer him blood, and that they bring him down to the level of the monsters who said they were his image?

Robespierre, 1791.

Gerry Madden October 18, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Republican Socialism, Republicanism, The Left.
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Swanton (left) and Madden (right)

Dessie Swanton (left) and Gerry Madden (right).

Sad news from Jim Lane:

An old comrade of mine has passed away. Gerry Madden died this morning and will be buried on Monday in Cork. He endured 51 years of suffering and pain followiing an explosion at Cork’s Republican Plot on St.Patrick’s Day, 1963. His comrade, Dessie Swanton, was killed in the same incident, organised by Cork Republicans to protest the presence of DeValera at the Republican Plot.

Vols Colman Rowntree & Martin McAlinden – 40th Commemoration May 22, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Northern Ireland, Official IRA, Official Sinn Féin, Republicanism, Republicans, The Left.

Many thanks to the person who forwarded the text of the speech delivered at the Commemoration for OIRA Volunteers Colman Rowntree and Martin McAlinden.

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That Adams arrest and other matters May 1, 2014

Posted by Oireachtas Retort in Irish Politics, Republicanism, The North.

I do wonder what could emerge about IRA that could seriously damage Sinn Féin at this point. Certainly the new generation when pressed to condemn events of thirty years ago is no endearing spectacle but what revelation could possibly be a tipping point past what people already know and have drawn conclusions either way. The big paradox here is that those fighting to keep Sinn Féin from office are simply delaying the only sure way of voters deserting Sinn Féin in droves.

Dr Vicky Conway, who has written two books on the history and matter of accountability within An Garda Síochána argues that it is a politicised police force with centralised political control. The PSNI needs little explanation and the level of collaboration which emerged during the News of the World phone hacking scandal put an end to any lingering doubts about London’s MET. It was said to me last night that people believe policing is not political as if priests were not religious. Last year the Irish Minister for Justice used information about a political opponent, against a political opponent, on national television. The information was given to him by the Garda Commissioner and the real games had barely began.

Gerry Adams was taken in for questioning last night. Three weeks before what will possibly be Sinn Féin’s biggest election in the republic. Martin Ferris has drawn comparison with his arrest ahead of the 2002 general election. He took Spring’s seat in the end.  I remember the morning of the European Fiscal Treaty vote in 2012. A big deal for all involved no doubt. The radio buzzed with news of a suspicious device at Mary Lou McDonald’s office in Dublin’s North Strand. We had to wait till evening before being told this was a hoax but a proverbial cloud of sulphur and the past was left hanging over the main treaty opposition as voters went to the polls.

All these policing incidents are speculation of course but who knows which justice scandal to follow at this point.

One of the Us in GUBU was ‘unprecedented’ but not any more.

I don’t have a lot a time for motivations Sinn Féin may perceive but I am very interested in the anxiety they generate among the Irish ruling consensus. Last week many were quick to rubbish the anger directed at the Anglo Irish Bank jury. This is justice they say. We do things right. Their silence on this kind of stuff is deafening but not surprising.

Republicanism and agency April 22, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Feminism, Irish Politics, Republicanism, The Left.

An…erm… bracing review in the Irish Times of a new book that seeks to give an overview of Irish political and social thought from the 17th century onwards. This is from Bryan Fanning and Tom Garvin and entitled ‘The Books That Define Ireland’. The review is by Nicholas Allen and in the course of dissecting the 29 essays on 27 individual books he argues that the authors have produced:

…an uneven collection that starts slowly and generates interest only when the two authors begin to introduce personal experience into passages of otherwise pedestrian critique.

But Allen’s critique is intriguing too for the angle taken:

The essays are dense with biography, history and textual summary. Together they form the catechism of an Ireland whose imaginative cartography is strangely alien. I was left with the impression that the two greatest historical threats to the island’s survival were masturbation and the IRA.


This is in part because the two shadows that reach longest over the books that Fanning and Garvin read are religion and statehood, a condition sometimes mistaken for nationality.

Which is a most interesting point. But Allen goes further…

…a persistent antagonism to later forms of republicanism in Ireland sours the tone of the accompanying essay. Thinking of the sorrow of starvation in Skibbereen, Garvin concludes that “the entire IRA tradition feeds off enduring memories of British indifference to the suffering of their putative ancestors, and many an atrocity has been justified by reference to ‘Black ’47’ “. This is a claim absurd in its imprecision.

Or how about this?

It is one of a series that mars the book. Another such is the unlikely suggestion that “much of the pseudo-history of traditionalist outfits like the IRA is directly or indirectly inspired by Geoffrey Keating”. Another records Fanning’s disappointment that Patrick Pearse and “romantic nationalists like him … successfully co-opted the real Wolfe Tone”.

But we’re only getting started really:

Garvin suggests there that the dual traditions of civil disobedience and of military struggle against British rule have metastasised post-independence into a disregard for the State and its authority. The argument is worth discussion. Garvin’s conclusions are not. “It would be interesting,” he writes, “to see how many people involved in the recent wave of public scandals have Northern or Border backgrounds and close or distant IRA connections.” If there is some genius in the ability to be so vaguely offensive, there is little compelling in the argument, even if we take the North to begin somewhere on a line between south Dublin and Co Offaly.

There does seem to be some truth in the idea that there is in some quarters a curious exaggeration of the degree of agency republicanism (and PIRA in particular, though not just or only them) have had. In a strong form that can be seen in the strictures recommended (and imposed) by those like Conor Cruise O’Brien, a sort of belief in an innate credulity on the part of the inhabitants of this island (or some significant portion of same) to anything wrapped in a tricolour and referencing 1916. This persists in the curious attitudes of Harris et al (I was entertained by his thoughts this weekend as to a kinder gentler independence struggle run along essentially pacifist lines – something that seems bizarrely partitionist and also underestimating of the nature of the British state during that period). I guess the weak form is seen in various manifestations both at state and other levels – perhaps the current issue over the participation of British royalty at the 1916 commemorations is of a piece with that.

Of course one has to admit that there was some agency – and at times a considerable degree of agency. And no state(s) are comfortable with the prospect of paramilitarism, for obvious reasons. And yet, the near existential nature of the threat as posited by those mentioned above, always seemed to me to be overblown. Where was the evidence of parallel structures that could supplant those of the Republic, let alone a genuine and long-lasting public enthusiasm for same? And what of the institutions of state which – and perhaps the current period of economic crisis underlines this perfectly – if anything appear to be deep rooted and, for all the rhetoric, continuing to retain democratic legitimation in the eyes of those who afford that legitimation. And all this before we arrive at the arms of that state and how they would respond to any genuine internal threat to their position. But perhaps these are discussions for another day.

Allen makes a range of other useful points…

The Ireland that this book defines is an oddity already. The first woman author appears in Chapter Twenty One; the Celtic Tiger has been relegated already to the category of shameful secret; and the span of nearly 400 years in what the authors call historical and social literature makes for often dry reading (both authors admit they are untrained in advanced literary study; perhaps their work’s greatest achievement is to prove the value of such scholarship)

And yet, it does make me curious to actually read the book.

Bobby McKnight funeral – Tuesday 22nd April April 21, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Republican Socialism, Republicanism, The Left.
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Bobby McKnight was involved with the republican movement in Belfast since the late 1940s, was jailed during Border Campaign, involved in reorganising the IRA during the 1960s and a leading member of Official IRA after 1970.

Funeral on Tuesday 22 April, leaving family home to be at junction of Beechmount Avenue and Falls for 1pm- to Milltown Cemetery for burial.

Apologies for late notice which was due to being out of the state for the past five days.

Republican Liam Sutcliffe (Part Two) February 16, 2014

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Republicanism, Video interview.
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Via Irish Republican Marxist History Project

Part one was previously posted here

Republican Liam Sutcliffe (Part two)

Liam Sutcliffe gives his own account of the people who were branded terrorists in their youth and what it was like to live through those turbulent times.

In 1966 on the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Easter rising Sutcliffe was involved in an operation to blow up Nelson’s Pillar in O’Connell Street Dublin.

He was also instrumental in organising the funeral of Saor Eire member Liam Walsh, who in 1970 was killed in a premature explosion at the rear of McKee army base in Dublin.

Many thanks to the sender.

Liam Sutcliffe Irish Republican- Soldier and Revolutionary. April 30, 2013

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish History, Republicanism, Video interview.

This is the story of veteran Republican Liam Sutcliffe who joined the IRA in 1954. Within a few months he was an IRA agent in Gough barracks Armagh during `operation Harvest’. Sutcliffe later left the IRA and operated with the breakaway Joe Christle group during the 1950s Border campaign.
In 1966, on the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Easter rising he was involved in an operation to blow up Nelson’s Pillar in O’Connell Street Dublin.

In 1970 Sutcliffe joined Saor Eire. He was instrumental in organising the funeral in Mount Jerome Cemetery of Saor Eire member Liam Walsh, who was killed in a premature explosion at the rear of McKee army base in Dublin.

Many thanks to the sender.

Joe McCann commemoration – Report and Photos April 16, 2012

Posted by guestposter in Irish Politics, Republican Socialism, Republicanism, Socialism.

Many thanks to the person who sent this. With luck there will be further reports and photographs tomorrow.

’40 years to the day after his murder by British Paratroops, Official IRA volunteer Joe McCann was commemorated in Belfast. Hundreds of people attended a ceremony in Joy Street (where he was shot) organised by the McCann family. Members of the Official Republican Movement, the Workers Party, the Irish Republican Socialist Party and Sinn Féin (including Gerry Adams TD) were present. Many of those attending were veterans of the pre-split IRA, the Official IRA, the INLA and the Provisionals.

Ciaran McCann chaired the event while his brother Fearghal gave the main oration. Aine McCann read a poem in memory of her father while her sister Fionnuala sang a song about Joe originally written by Market’s woman Margaret Power. Joe’s widow Anne laid a wreath as did members of the extended family.

In his oration Fearghal read from a contemporary account of how Long Kesh internee Gerry Campbell reacted to news of Joe’s death. He then placed Joe’s murder in the context of the shootings by British forces of civilians in Ballymurphy and Derry. Fearghal recounted how Joe had become involved in republicanism as a teenager, collecting for internees during the Border Campaign. After firstly joining the Fianna he became an IRA volunteer in 1964. He was jailed in Crumlin Road during 1965 and on release became active again in the various republican political movements of the period. McCann was involved with the Belfast Housing Action Committee and took part in the first civil rights march from Coalisland to Dungannon in 1968. He embraced the idea of an ‘Army of the People’ and the need for the IRA to become involved in social struggles. In August 1969 he was active with the IRA in defence of the people in Belfast: was was arrested again shortly afterwards. McCann took part in the fighting during the Falls Curfew in July 1970 and in August 1971, as commander of the Official IRA in the Markets area defended the district from much larger forces of British troops. The RUC Special Branch and British Army made it clear that they would not take Joe alive and in April 1972 they murdered him.

The ceremony ended with the ‘Last Post’ and lowering of flags and the McCann family thanked all those who helped make it such a success.’

The Wood for the Trees. Another Massive Leap for Progress. Or, More Ignoring of Imperialism. January 5, 2012

Posted by Garibaldy in Commemoration, Republicanism.

The recent trend for commemorating WWI as a good thing because Catholics and Protestants/Unionists and Nationalists both fought in it is something that drives me absolutely nuts (previous rants include this against Myers, this in praise of Nadine Coyle, and this. Usually we are spared this rubbish apart from the run-up to November 11th, but Belfast City Council’s decision to invite an Irish minister to its Somme commemoration has brought it back into the spotlight.

The motion, from former Lord Mayor Pat McCarthy of the SDLP (and former member of the Republican Clubs to save anyone else the trouble of pointing that out), was unopposed, with PSF abstaining on the grounds that this should have been dealt with by a sub-committee that exists to deal with the forthcoming centenaries (kicking off this year with the Ulster Covenant). There’s a thread about this on Sluggerotoole that makes for depressing reading. Amidst all the sound and fury, no reflection on what the war actually meant, nor what it was about. One of the greatest disasters in human history, the very epitome of all that is wrong with imperialism, reduced to a petty squabble about here.

This is the reality of politics in Northern Ireland still. Empty gestures that are in and of themselves are often either meaningless or – as in this case – utterly reactionary, and serve only to reveal how either variety of nationalism (British or Irish) on offer in the north is inherently limited in its potential to be progressive. So wrapped up are they in their combat with one another, any place for consistently progressive politics, for secularism, for class politics, gets squeezed out almost entirely by all-too-often sectarian forms of populism. See the 11 Plus debacle for a fine example. Unfortunately, this is what the people want, and this is especially what the middle and lower middle classes represented best by the DUP and PSF especially like. In my opinion, anyone who considers themselves a principled progressive who can look at these maps and think about the commemoration of WWI in positive terms because of nationalism and unionism in Ireland is kidding themselves. I’ve mentioned this before, but in 2003, The WP in Waterford opposed the erection of a statue to a VC winner by proposing a memorial to all the victims of imperialism. No doubt in my mind which is the progressive option, and which is the message most fit to build class unity across the island.

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