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ILA Podcast #22: Terry Dunne: Anti-war and Activist Movements, Historical Sociology, and “Peelers and Sheep” April 12, 2021

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In this episode we talk to Terry Dunne. As an activist, Terry has been involved in anarchist groups, and the anti-war, environmental and social justice movements. Terry has a PhD in sociology and an interest in the historical sociology of social movements. He has written particularly on agrarian social movements, and his work has been published in journals such as Saothar, Critical Historical Studies and Rural History. Terry also writes and hosts the Peelers and Sheep: Rebel Tales from the Land podcast.

We first get an overview of Terry’s own activism, from the anti-war movement, the non-hierarchical environmental and social justice movement, Gluaiseacht, and the broader activist context at that time. We then discuss Terry’s research in the area of agrarian agitation during the Irish revolutionary period, which is explored in Terry’s podcast, Peelers and Sheep, and how that fits with more traditional narratives of Irish history.

Terry’s podcast explores a fascinating history – look up Peelers and Sheep in your podcast app or you’ll find it at peelersandsheep.ie .

Terry mentions the influence of Peoples’ Global Action and their hallmarks – you’ll find their archived website here .

Listeners will find an overview of the Grassroots Gatherings and movements around that period in this article from Laurence Cox: The Grassroots Gatherings Networking a “movement of movements” 

To explore Irish labour history further, two good sources of material are the Irish Labour History Society  and Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour & Class .


If you’re enjoying the podcast, please subscribe. If you use a podcast app, it should come up in most of them if you search for “Irish Left Archive Podcast”, or use one of the links below.

Representing the whole of the nation… April 12, 2021

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What an interesting quote in this piece from the Guardian by Simon Jenkins on the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.

As the constitutionalist Vernon Bogdanor has written: “A constitutional monarchy settles beyond argument the crucial question of who is to be the head of state, and places the position of that head beyond political competition. In doing so, it alone can represent the whole nation in an emotionally satisfying way.

That seems to be a statement that raises more questions than it seeks to answer.

All over before it began? April 12, 2021

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The news SF has thrown its 41 TDs and Senators behind the genial Billy Lawlessa former Senator (nominated by FG) and Independent candidate for the Seanad is intriguing. Apparently Hazel Chu was hoping for some of those votes but SF argues that “Lawless has a “track record in working with the diaspora, the undocumented in the US and in relation to presidential voting rights; which are priorities the party share”.” Meanwhile the party continues to support Ian Marshall, unionist and former Ulster Farmers’ Union president on the Agriculture panel.

Chu herself seems resigned to her campaign now having no prospect of victory.

Ms Chu said she’s “grateful” that Sinn Féin gave her consideration but said their decision to back Mr Lawless is “fair” given that she was seen as a Government member.

On her chances of being elected she said “the numbers aren’t there and that’s fine” adding: “As much as I would have loved to win I also knew going into it that winning wasn’t the reason I was going for it.”

She said she knew the Seanad bid was going to be a “no hoper” when she decided to run but she’s still glad she did and she is not withdrawing from the race.

Left Archive: Forum: A Republican Journal, Issue 1, February 2003, The New Republican Forum April 12, 2021

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To download the above please click on the following link.

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

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

This magazine, from The New Republican Forum was published in 2003.

The last page notes that:

The New Republican Forum is a coalition of political and community activists, founded to challenge the political status quo in Ireland by providing a radical Republican alternative to the mainstream political establishment.

In essence The New Republican Forum was established by a group around former PIRA and RIRA member Michael McKevitt following their leaving or being expelled from the latter organisation after a dispute between prisoners in Portlaoise and the leadership of the organisation.

The New Republican Forum:

· Stands for the reunification of Ireland and opposes all aspects of British interference in Irish affairs.

· Opposes the Belfast Agreement, which subverts the Irish people’s inalienable right to self-determination.

· Stands for the creation of a just society in Ireland, based on principles of equality, social justice and genuine democracy, underpinned by a comprehensive charter of inalienable human rights.

· Supports the promotion and development of Irish culture.

· Opposes the resurgence of imperialism as a political ideology, led by the United States, its allies and client regimes.

· Supports all oppressed peoples struggling for national liberation.

· Opposes any attempt by the Dublin government to aid or assist any Western military alliance.

Our aims are:

· To establish a credible Republican opposition to British rule in Ireland.

· To critically reassess and analyse the history of the Republican struggle in Ireland, and by so doing, chart a course for the future of the Republican movement.

· To establish, support and coordinate the activities of Republican, community-based and other progressive organisations, forging a basis for a new national movement.

· To liase with other progressive forces, nationally and internationally, including anti-capitalist groups, trade unionists and environmental movements, along with national liberation movements worldwide, to further the cause of anti-imperialism.

· To establish a range of independent media outlets providing Irish people with alternative sources of information on political and social issues.

The magazine has an interview with a Community worker on the drugs issue in Dublin. Another examines allegations of corruption in the Garda. The 1972 State Papers only then recently released are considered. The issue of the use of Shannon by US military aircraft is discussed as is Iraq. 

There’s an interesting interview with a representative of Republican prisoners in Portlaoise (these would be RIRA prisoners). 

Q9. What realistic strategic options are open to republicans opposed to British rule in Ireland?

At this time it is important that republicans accept political reality regardless of how unpalatable it may be. It is obvious that there is no support for armed struggle in Ireland at this time. And without popular support any armed campaign against British rule is doomed to failure. We believe it is the moral responsibility of the republican  leadership to terminate any campaign when it becomes obvious that its continuance is futile.

Indeed, following the split with the Provisionals, many of the individuals who reconstituted the IRA agreed that if the campaign showed clear signs of being ground to a halt, it would be terminated rather than continued in an ineffective or irregular manner.

Many republicans also believe that it is immoral to jeopardise the lives of non-combatants and risk the lives and liberty of IRA volunteers as part of a non-existent campaign which has been reduced to an attempted operation every couple of months.

This is even more so when a corrupt and discredited leadership is directing such a campaign. Our acceptance of political reality does not entail any ideological concessions. We continue to remain steadfastly opposed to the Belfast Agreement. However, in an environment where armed struggle is not a viable option it is our duty to resist British rule in Ireland by all other means at our disposal.

At all times republicans must remember that the objective of our struggle is the removal of the British presence in Ireland and not the employment of armed struggle at any cost.

Finally, the Editorial asks ‘Republicanism – a failed ideology?’.

So, if Republicanism remains a potent ideology, why has it been. such a political failure? Why have all Republican military campaignsended in defeat? Why has the Republican movement been repeatedly betrayed by its own leaders? Why has the movement consistently failed to mobilize mass support in the South when such support was, at times, clearly visible? And above all, why has a secular, non-sectarian ideology failed so completely to win support from working class Protestants in the North?

War and Peace in a Docklands Hotel April 11, 2021

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Via East Wall History Group – a fantastic project:

North Wall Quay, the 11th April 1921. It could have been any other day on the Dublin Docks as hundreds of dockers, quay laborer’s, carters and seamen made their way to work. Even the military guard at the front door of the London Northwestern Railway Hotel was becoming a familiar figure. But despite appearances, this was anything but a normal day. At 8.00 am a number of armed men emerged from the throng of workers and approached the Hotel building, an action which signaled the start of the most audacious attack carried out against the British Crown Forces this area had ever witnessed. But the story of the LNWR Hotel did not begin with this gun battle – rather it was just one chapter in a Docklands tale of cross channel tourism, a gateway to the country, a place of luxurious surroundings , with its origins in an abandoned plans plans for a cattle market.

On the centenary of this major ambush during the War of Independence , the East Wall History Group is proud to release this documentary to mark the occasion , which includes details of not only of the attack on the LNWR Hotel but also places the building in its correct context as a major feature in the story of Dublin Port. A feature by film-makers Louis Maxwell and Conor Forkin.

Supported by the Dublin City Council Decade of Commemorations Fund for Communities. #lovedublinhistory

Fortnightly Culture Thread April 11, 2021

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gregtimo proposed in comments recently this idea:

I think you need a weekly culture section !

It’s a great idea but perhaps fortnightly gives us a chance to bring something new?

Sunday and other Media Stupid Statements from this week… April 11, 2021

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Unsubstantiated assertion, including a knock against public health expert? Look no further than:

I believe Ministers were simply browbeaten into implementing travel quarantine to assuage an angry and frightened public who were whipped into further frenzy by activist scientists allied with the Government’s political opposition. The public was tricked into believing that quarantine would somehow lead to a loosening of our current exhausting lockdown. They swallowed it whole.

Is Finn McRedmond comparing like and like. In a piece on Philip Roth and the reexamination of his output in the wake of MeToo she writes…

This impulse is the same one that makes us demand celebrities declare their political views; an impulse that says we cannot enjoy the music of a pop star if they secretly support Donald Trump. It is why Taylor Swift proved she was a Democrat after years of suspicion she was not. That her political beliefs had no bearing on her work seemed to elude the grasp of many.

There might be good reason why one would not want to financially support someone if they politically supported Trump – their work isn’t the only aspect of them in question.

Stephen Collins seems to get the chronology wrong in the following (and ignore the provisions of the GFA/BA in relation to the legitimacy of the political position of support for a United Ireland):

The eruption of loyalist violence this week should make nationalist politicians and commentators think twice before engaging in further idle chatter about the imminence of a united Ireland. With unionists clearly unsettled by the Northern Ireland protocol the pressure for a Border poll has added an even more dangerous ingredient to the mix.

Given the volatile atmosphere generated by the betrayal of the Democratic Unionist Party by their “friends” on the right wing of the Conservative party the drive by some nationalists to exploit the wound by demanding an early Border poll is further encouragement to those determined to create mayhem.

The calls for a Border Poll have been made since Brexit. That’s now five or so years. The ‘betrayal’ by the British government (not just the right-wing of the Tory party) occurred much more recently.

Pro-Treaty IRA prisoners in Northern Ireland in the early 1920s April 11, 2021

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From the very interesting Stories from A Border Kitchen, from Dr Patrick Mulroe who wrote the fascinating Bombs, Bullets and the Borders study of policing and security policy on the part of the Republic of Ireland of the Border in the late 1960s and 1970s, comes this on The Free State’s POWs during the Civil War. By this he means the pro-Treaty IRA personnel who were in prisons in Northern Ireland during that period. Some remarkable thoughts there, not least that in 1926 a good 40 remained in prison in jails across the UK.

Stories From a Border Kitchen also has podcasts, with interviews with Brian Hanley and Matt Carthy, and articles and other media. A real wealth of information.

Monster movies…redux April 10, 2021

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Amazed I am, amazed, to learn how successful Godzilla Vs Kong has been. Streaming has not dimmed its appeal, marking a significant uptick from the last film, getting at least $285m worldwide – and to date the third highest grossing film of this year.

Still, that may be no great surprise. Given the pandemic watching monsters (ahem, I mean of course ‘Titans’) slugging it out in Florida and Hong Kong and various points in-between is probably a blessed relief.

I was entertained, that’s for sure, though the bits in between the fights were cursory to the point of insulting. There were two major plot elements I will not mention here, but it’s not exactly news to say that characterisation of the human participants was minimal. And yet for all that, I’ve loved this franchise – entitled the Monsterverse, and the wildly inconsistent offerings we’ve been given from the off. The first Godzilla film, courtesy of director Gareth Edwards, was almost (almost) cerebral in its approach. Kong: Skull Island was pulpy but so committed to its material that the Vietnam War/Monster crossover (and its far from implicit critique of imperialism) was hugely entertaining. Godzilla: King of the Monsters was… different. Long, very very long. Ponderous, with too much emphasis on CGI. Not a great film and yet some great moments throughout.

Which brings us to the battle of the Titans. Now I’m all for a speedy film, and this certainly zipped along but I could have done with say ten extra minutes here and there to introduce characters and basic plot points. For example, again, no spoiler – there’s Monarch, the Titan control organisation (though control might be stretching it, given the ability of most of the Titan’s to breach any and every containment). But there’s also a newly involved corporation, called Apex. There’s no clear explanation as to the relationship between the two, though relationship there must be given the plot of the film. You’d think there’d be two minutes of explanation. But no… on the film goes.

There’s blink and you’ll miss them appearances of actors – Kyle Chandler (beloved of Friday Night Lights) is particularly ill served; the fantastic Lance Riddick of Lost and Fringe fame is given, count ’em, two lines of dialogue and no introduction even though (looking it up after) he is the CEO of Monarch, and even Rebecca Hall and Millie Bobby Brown must be wondering how they earned their pay checks given their total screen time probably amounts to fifteen minutes or so each, and even there I’m being generous.

Then again in a film where people screaming in the face of flailing arms, tails and other parts of skyscraper sized monsters is a feature not a glitch, perhaps acting is in any real sense redundant.

On the other hand, in a world where superhero films of remarkable similarity have debased the term ‘spectacle’ this was indeed a spectacle and spectacular. Thrill to the protagonists fighting on an aircraft carrier, marvel at how tall Kong has grown, be baffled by subsequent plot points. Or to put it another way the film makes not a bit of sense, even accounting for its initial premise.

There’s hints that there may be further additions to the Monsterverse – particular given the film has done so well. I kind of hope so. It’d be good to see what they do given a little less pressure to wrap up this particular part of the story, and one imagines there’s no end of potential narrative paths ahead. But for my money the first two are the best in the series – and Kong: Skull Island a nose ahead at that, being a genuinely entertaining film that does no more than it sets out to accomplish but does it supremely well. And in this world today, that’s no small thing.

Red Middle-Earth April 10, 2021

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This is fantastic, in a kitsch sort of a way. News that a Soviet television version of the Lord of the Rings has been rediscovered.

A Soviet television adaptation of The Lord of the Rings thought to have been lost to time was rediscovered and posted on YouTube last week, delighting Russian-language fans of JRR Tolkien.

The 1991 made-for-TV film, Khraniteli, based on Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, is the only adaptation of his Lord of the Rings trilogy believed to have been made in the Soviet Union.

Aired 10 years before the release of the first instalment of Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy, the low-budget film appears ripped from another age: the costumes and sets are rudimentary, the special effects are ludicrous, and many of the scenes look more like a theatre production than a feature-length film.

Consider this must have been one of the last productions before the USSR left the stage of history.

In any event the adaptation is quite something. It’s entertaining to see the manner in which the same elements were utilised – the Ring itself, the Black Riders, the aforementioned theatre like production. Some strange choices in respect of the background music, and wigs too. Really the experience is bizarre, check out the attack on Weathertop (at least I think it’s the attack on Weathertop), or the Orcs, or…Sauron. Sauron. What can one say? As far as can be made out the series only gets through part of the Fellowship of the Ring.

Add to this footage from a proposed animation of The Hobbit. A fascinating sideways view of how Tolkien might be interpreted.

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