Tuesday, 4 October 2016

The Red Plough · PostThe Red Plough October 2016

The Red Plough

Vol. 6-No 1

 October  2016

 Some Reflections on the 100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising

Perhaps as we move towards the end of the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising it is worth reflecting on some of the issues that have emerged.

The  1916  Easter  Rising  was  an important event in world history as well as in Irish history. It was the first in a series of anti-imperialist uprisings during the 20th century. Not only did it inspire masses of Irish people but it also acted as a guide for other peoples under the lash of the European Imperialist powers.  The  1916 proclamation set out what the Rising was all about
It lit a fire that has not yet  been extinguished.

For that great achievement to be denigrated by politicians and vested interests including the media and revisionist academics shows how far we are from the attainment  off the goals and ideals off the men and women of 1916. 

Former Taoiseach John Bruton-revisionist!
Failed politicians and revisionist academics have tried to argue that there was no need for the Rising; that Britain would have eventually conceded Home Rule. Balderdash! Britain had already suspended Home Rule promised the Unionists their own little statelet(Northern Ireland ) and had no desire to grant even limited autonomy to the Irish people. For they recognised very clearly that the future of the British Empire was at stake. To weaken on Ireland would send a message to the subjected peoples of that Empire that liberation freedom and self- determination was possible.

And so it proved. All around the British Empire emerging nationalist rebels sough to learn the lessons of the Irish revolution and apply lessons from it in their own oppressed countries. Eventually even the British recognised that the "Winds of Change "  in Prime Minister McMillan  words  were blowing and Britain turned away from its imperial ambitions and turned towards Europe -albeit reluctantly.

However in Ireland those who came to power were so afraid of the history of their own country that the politicians of Fine Gael and Labour opted to turn  the anniversary into a gesture of reconciliation with Britain. Rather than co-operating with those who still control part of Ireland, it would have been better to have invited the representatives of those nations who following Ireland's stand, broke free from the shakles of Empire to celebrate national self determination.

The turning of the 100th anniversary into a piece of comic theatre called “reconciliation” with the adding of the names of all combatants who died  given equal prominence on a wall in Glasnevin Cemetery is to be utterly condemned.That call by the representatives of the Irish ruling class shows how far they are prepared to accommodate to British interests. Irish rebels were fighting for the freedom of their country while British soldiers were fighting  to suppress that freedom. One is progressive, the other is reactionary.

The volunteers in the Irish Citizen Army and the Irish Volunteers can in no way be equated with the soldiers  of a British  imperialist army, responsible for the introduction of concentration camps, ethnic cleansing and rape torture and massacre and the plundering of the assets of many countries around the world.

The only basis for reconciliation that socialists should advocate is that  between the  working classes. That alone would radically transform the nature of this society. 

Some left-wing groups tend to see occupation forces as workers in uniform. There are not. They are the enemy of all that is progressive. The view held by some leftists that there is no difference between republicanism and loyalism and that they are two sides of some sectarian coin is the absurd outcome of blinkered adherence to a rigid ideological straitjacket that owes more to political sectarianism than it does to genuine marxism.

Equally  there is sometimes a tendency for Irish  republicans to boast about their non-sectarianism. For example the  painting of a mural of Edward Carson, the leader of pro-Imperialist and reactionary Unionism,  on the International Wall along the Falls Road was a step too far by provisional Sinn Fein.
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It also shows how much the Sinn Fein leadership has bought into the Free State establishment’s embrace of “reconciliation” Edward Carson was a reactionary prepared to create a civil war rather than see an independent Ireland He was an out and out pro-imperialist reactionary and has no place on any wall celebrating the men and women of 1916.

Bending over backwards to appease the more extreme elements of loyalism or unionism  by either  republicans or socialists is just plain wrong. At the same time republicans need to acknowledge that some of their actions in the past had more to do with sectarianism than with republicanism. The Kingsmills Massacre of 10 protestants because they were protestants was a war crime. Those involved engaged in a blatantly sectarian act and have no business calling themselves Republicans then or now.

It needs to be said loud and clear that the Rising was justified . The so called promise of Home Rule was never going to be implemented. An alliance of the Tory aristocracy, the British ruling class and Unionist industrialists began  armed resistance to the Liberal Party’s implementation of Home Rule. It was these people who brought the gun back into Irish politics. Britain never had, and still has, no intention of re-moving itself from the Island of Ireland. 

Despite the Good Friday Agreement, and the St Andrews agreement they have refused to implement what they had promised. No Irish Language Act, no money for the huge backlog of Inquests going back forty five years.and so on.  So  a hundred years apart the British Ruling class is still treacherous in the way it that it deals with Ireland. And that is 100 years of British breaking of promises.

That should be no surprise to Irish republicans. Every time Irish republicans entered into negotiations with the British they were mislead, cheated and betrayed or acquiesced in their own betrayal. But what is surprising  to some  Republicans is that a  large section off the Irish ruling class have little or no interest in completing the National revolution begun in 1916. They should not be surprised. The Irish bourgeoise  have a vested interest in the maintenance  and continuation of capitalism in Ireland. Whether  in Fianna Fail, or Fine Gael,or the Labour Party or Sinn Fein, there have always been leaders prepared to accommodate and compromise with capitalism. They may all claim allegiance to the Proclamation but their actions say otherwise. The Irish ruling class are quite content to be junior Partners with International Finance.

1916 has been called the “Sinn Fein” rebellion. Sinn Fein was not involved in the Rising. Current Sinn Fein parties have no more right to claim to be the inheritors of 1916 than Irish nationalists and Irish socialists. After all Sinn Fein when first established was in favour of a Monarchy ruling Ireland and supported Home Rule. In fact 1916 saw the coming together of a broad alliance of groups and interests.  There was the Irish Republican Brotherhood. There was the Irish Citizen Army. And there were the  Irish National Volunteers. Indeed there were even members of the Hibernians there.Those in the Irish Citizen  Army were socialists, and under the leadership of James Connolly, had no illusions about the politics of those they were in an alliance with. James Connolly had no time for Sinn Fein believing they and nationalists would betray any revolutionary struggle for socialism. And so it proved for it was some of the nationalist fighters in 1916  went on to betray the ideals that they  once fought for.

However there is little point in modern-day Republicans denouncing the betrayals of Michael Collins, Eamon de Valera or Gerry Adams or indeed the betrayals of the Labour leadership. The failure of that leadership to struggle for socialism and instead to follow in behind the Civil War parties meant that the working class had no one to represent their interests.They accepted the dictate of de Valera that “Labour must wait”.  But to decry the betrayal of others with-out learning lessons is simply to piss against the wind.

The acceptance of partition by  all the mainstream political parties in the South meant that the northern nationalist working class  were left to the mercies of bigoted anti-Catholic Big House Unionism. A bitterly divided working class in the North  was cruelly exploited manipulated and controlled by bourgeois leaderships. Only occasionally were there sparks of class unity and that was usually followed by bitter sectarian rioting shooting and murder inspired by big house unionism. The then leadership of northern nationalism was quite prepared to acquire in the continuing partition of the country. After all the Catholic middle classes got some of the crumbs from the Unionist table so long as they did not rock the boat. Hence their leader in the sixties, Eddie Mc Ateer famous acceptance of Unionisms paltry reforms saying 
Eddie McAteer

 “Half a Loaf is better than no loaf”

The subsequent loss of support for the nationalist party caused panic in the catholic middle classes.They saw support swing towards both militant student movement with their dangerous talk of socialism and the militant republicans who also seemed to embrace some form of socialist ideology.

So they jumped onto the civil rights train as it was moving and tried to steer it towards respectable politicking . And they called them selves the Social Democratic and Labour Party in order to attract militants away from the new lefties on the block. But in reality it was the same old nationalist leadership with the catholic teachers replacing the old role of the Parish priest, and the landlords, the solicitors and the bar owners all flocking to claim leadership of the civil rights struggle. The SDLP now stands for the Solicitors, Doctors and Landlords' Party.(Not that Sinn Fein don't have their own share of Landlords!)

Like the SDLP all the republican organisations that emerged also paid their homage to the ideas of socialism even if for some of them the ideas of Marxism were a tad step too far.

The republicanism founded by the United Irishmen under the leadership of Wolfe Tone was based on the concepts of liberty equality and fraternity. Under future republican leaders, such as James Connolly, Liam Mellows and Seamus Costello the wider concept of socialism became part of the Republican outlook. Practically all of the existing republican parties and groups today include a commitment to socialism. Traditionally Irish republicanism has seen itself as non-sectarian internationalist and progressive. Indeed these sentiments are  articulated every year at Easter commemorations. 
Seamus Costello

However James Connolly’s socialism in the aftermath of the Rising was downplayed. His  class analysis was even neglected by the labour movement. The Catholic Church sensing the mood of the nation presented  the national Independent struggle as a struggle for a Catholic nation and sadly some Republicans bought into this.
Eamon de Valera taking the advice of the Catholic Church adopted  a Catholic Constitution for the 26 counties state in 1937.

While there  were always republicans who were socialists that socialist element had great difficulties surviving in the Republican tradition. In the 1930s the emergence of the Republican Congress was outside the mainstream republican movement. It split over the differences between a demand for a “Republic” and the demand for  “A Workers Republic” and it soon withered away. In the meantime the IRA itself launched a bombing campaign in England in the late 1930s and early 1940s and some of its members played footsie with German Nazism in the mistaken belief that "England’s difficulty was Ireland’s opportunity”. 

In the 26 counties Eamon de Valera responded by a crackdown on republicanism and executing a number of the republicans.There are few as ruthless as former revolutionaries gone bad.

In the 1950s members of the IRA were forbidden take part in agitation against unemployment and emigration despite the fact that hundreds of thousands were leaving Irish shores and poverty was widespread. Instead the IRA  concentrated on “Operation Harvest” yet another failed armed effort to dislodge Britain from Ireland. 

It was only coming close to the 50th anniversary of the Rising that Republicans began once again to look at the class question. They discovered that indeed there had been the class analysis within Republicanism  and  in particularly in the 1930s. They embraced the writings of James Connolly still Ireland’s greatest marxist.The history of the Republican Congress was re-discovered analysed and lessons learnt. The Connollyite strain in republicanism was being re-established .

However there have also been republicans who flirted with fascism. Some with tunnel vision believe that the time is always ripe for armed actions regardless of the international or national situations. They refuse to learn the lessons of history. Every armed republican campaign have either being defeated or compromised by its own leadership. After over 220 years of imprisonment internment torture death and defeat it would be maybe time for Irish republicanism to have a rethink. The world has today become a very different place from the world of Wolfe Tone. Even the world of Connolly and Pearse  has disappeared. Today no single country can live in isolation without drastic consequences for its people.

There are times in struggle when the use of violence by oppressed peoples or nations may be justified. For example the use of violence to overthrow the Batista regime in Cuba was justified. 
The violence perpetrated by Fidel Castro and his  guerrilla army was necessary to overthrow a reactionary dictatorship. Does anyone deny that the resistance  off the various under ground armies under occupation by a fascist Germany was justified?

Britain throughout its history has used  violence to establish an Empire. That empire was  built on the bodies of people whose assets were stolen, whose   industries  were destroyed and  many were sold into slavery. That is why Britain today is amongst some of the richest countries in the world. Its use of torture rape and pillage were small things for it's ruling class.
Violence is an inherent part of the British class ruling class’s method of ruling.

Was the violence of the Greek Cypriots against the British justified? Was the violence from the Mau Mau in Kenya justified? Was the violence of the Indian people justified? And was the violence used by Irish Republicans justified? Yes is clearly the answer.

But while violence may be justified it is not always tactically wise. One could argue that so the military strategy used by republicans during Easter week 1916 was naive. Some of the leadership believed the British would never destroy inner Dublin. They were wrong.

National liberation movement have used a variety of tactics including rural and urban guerrilla warfare. In Ireland learning the lessons of Easter week Michael Collins adopted the tactic  of mobile guerrilla units, called flying columns and the  use of  hit and run tactics.  It was successful for a while. Later on the car bomb and the incendiary device proved successful weapons in destabilising the northern statelet. But in today's modern world such tactics can be easily defeated. Cameras are everywhere. Every main road  is bedecked with cameras  making secret movements almost impossible. Listening devices are now so sophisticated and small they are almost impossible to find.
Drones are now used to follow targeted individuals. The politics of the individuals can be easily discovered by following Facebook or Twitter. It is no wonder that the gaols are filling up with militant republicans. 

But while modern technology can effectively monitor and control the tactics of guerrilla warfare it is almost impossible to predict mass  terrorist atrocities.Today religious fanatics use tactics of mass terror using suicide bombers and bomb and gun  attacks on civilians to make a point.

That blind fanaticism and fascism is anathema to Republicanism.
Irish republicanism is never likely to adopt the mass terror tactics of religious  fanatics for to do so would be to abandon republican ideology. The leaders of 1916 surrendered when they realised that they could not win and that to continue would lead to even more deaths of civilian casualties. If only other republicans would follow the examples of the 16 leadership and dump their weapons and adapt to cuurent conditions

Capitalism now  is dominate on a worldwide basis. National barriers are  broken down. In response to capitalist expansion socialists have become internationalist and reject nationalism. However that is not to reject struggles for national self determination. In Ireland the struggle  for self-determination, not yet obtained, is a noble and worthy cause. Irish republicanism has always brought together militants with differing ideologies. The original United Irishmen saw both middle-class and working class and peasants trying together to establish an independent republic. 

In 1916 rebellion saw  a coming together of the working classes in the ICA, armed members of the IRB,  middle-class cultural rebels and nationalists. 

Similarly when the provisional movement  PSF/PIRA was established in 1969 it brought together traditional Republicans, urban youth, militant nationalists and those influenced by socialism.There is always been a strong element of nationalism within republicanism. That is the natural consequence of being an oppressed nation. Indeed the cultural revival of the late 19th century played an important part in the revival of republicanism. Creating a sense of Irishness, reclaiming the Irish  language and promoting the GAA and Irish traditional sports were all essential in creating a revolutionary spirit. It was that spirit that ignited  the spark of 1916 and began the struggle  for National independence. However it is worth pointing out that is the main driving force behind 1916 was James Connolly and the Irish Citizen Army.

Similarly in the mid 1960s there was a mini revival of sorts. Only this time it was heavily influenced by International events such as the  emergence off popular culture, the Cuban revolution and the Vietnam war. Meanwhile in United States the growing civil rights movement in the United States was getting international interest. 

The election of a nominal  catholic as United States president in 1960 naturally created an interest in Ireland because off Jack Kennedy’s Irish ancestry. Also the convening of the Vatican Council meant a change was also taking place within the Catholic Church. In the north of Ireland for the first time due to the introduction of the welfare state many working class Catholics had opportunities to go to University. Republicanism was not immune to this. In analysing the failure of “operation harvest” some left-leaning Republicans became attracted to the ideas of socialism and of Karl Marx. 

One such person was Seamus Costello. On the 50th anniversary of the 1916 operating he said

If we of this generation are to pay a fitting tribute to the men who died for us all in 1916 it is absolutely essential that we understand the ideals for which they died. The most widespread misconception outside the Republican Movement concerning the men of 1916 is that they had died simply to change the colour of the flag and the post boxes- that they were a group of romantics unconcerned with the everyday problems of the people. Nothing could be further removed from the truth.”
“The first aim of the Republican Movement is to unite all sections of the Irish people, irrespective of class, creed or political persuasions in their demands for political and economic independence.”

“The North today is palace of carefully fostered bigotry and sectarianism. It is also a place where an extremely high proportion of the population is denied the right to have a political organisation which represents their point of view. It is also place where religious differences between Catholic and Protestant workers are deliberately fostered by those whose only purpose is the exploitation of all workers.
It is essential that we understand how discrimination against any section of the working classes works to the benefit of the Capitalist class. The great majority of people in the North are either industrial workers or small farmers who are controlled economically by a majority of the wealthy and privileged capitalists. It is the business of these capitalists to maintain their privileged positions…”

This slow movement towards a class analysis was to become a common feature of all the various strands of republicanism over the next 50 years. The Republican movement in the 1960s was influenced by members and supporters of the Communist Party parties both in Ireland and Britain. 
That is why the phrase “Irrespective of class” was used. Their policy was to include, regardless of class background, all those who would support a United Ireland. This form of Popular Frontism was a standard approach  of Communist parties throughout the world under the influence of Stalinism.  Despite the fact  that such a  policy had repeatedly  failed in China, in Spain and in  a large  number of other countries, they persisted with this failed policy.  It led to the death of thousands of Marxist militants and revolutionary fighters.

To be fair to Seamus Costello he altered his thinking on an all class alliance. Due to his experiences later on in what became known as the official republican movement he adopted the stance that the class and national questions are so intertwined that the struggle for a united Ireland had to be a struggle for a socialist Ireland. In so doing he was adopting a  Connollyite approach.

However his assassination robbed republicanism of an articulate leader and gradually the Provos seized the leadership of the political and military resistance in the aftermath of the hunger strikes in1981.

Their new leadership gradually ditched the leftist rhetoric, isolated the militants and adapted an all class alliance  approach within both northern nationalism and Free State constitutionalism. Contacts established with MI5 as early as 1971 were strengthened in the  1980’s eventually leading to the 1994 ceasefire. During all this time the volunteers and militant Sinn Fein members were fed the line of no sell out, no decommissioning,  no stormont , no acceptance of the police force and no acceptance of the so called Unionist veto.

While the gradually shedding of these commitments lost them volunteers it won the Sinn Fein leadership the support of the northern nationalist middle classes. By the end of the process that began with the Good Friday Agreement and ending with the St.Andrews agreement the  Sinn Fein leadership had established itself as the major nationalist party in the North and potential king makers in the South. The pouring of vast sums of European money into pet provo community projects muted opposition in their heartlands. 

We are now at a point where the nationalist middle classes are content with the northern state and are increasingly seeing them selves as “Northern Irish”

This gradually assimilation into a British mindset has all but knocked the heart out of republicanism!
Saoradh the latest Party to arrive!

As under the pressure of events Irish republicanism splintered divided and diminished, the emerging splinter groups grasped at any straw that would seem to make them relevant. The concept of the Socialist Republic seemed to fit . And so they all claim  to be fighting  for a Socialist Republic.  However their socialism is essentially a vague aspiration. There is no meat on the bones of their socialism, no clear policies no programme nor a vision of what a socialist Irlean d would look like. Few if any of these groups have a clear political programme that would build socialism.

 That is not to say that there are no socialists within these groups. Many of these militants are genuine socialists hoping to transform society. Some of their leaderships may be well disposed towards socialist ideas. But it is not intentions that determine outcomes.The question needs to be asked of all those who claim to be socialists, what have they done to win people to socialism. What actions have they taken to strengthen the working class, what consistent campaigns have they carried out to expose capitalism ? What socialist education do they deliver to their membership?

Militant republicans spend a lot of their time supporting their political prisoners highlighting their treatment in gaol and organising fund raising activities to support the families of prisoners. And so they should. But if that and ceremonial guards of honour at commemorations are the sole activity they carry out, maybe they should have a re-think. 

The sad fact is that republicanism is very badly divided. There at least nine armed groups claiming to be republican. Even attempts to celebrate the 100th anniversary of 1916 in Belfast with a united parade failed as the IRSP marched separate from the attempted unity one. It is clear there are serious political differences between the groups  but unfortunately few of those groups will spell out clearly what the differences are. It seems that the Sinn Fein mentality “ourselves alone” is catching.
 Are those differences policy driven? and if so surely they should be clearly spelt out, so that not only their membership know the difference but also the people who they wish to win to their side know exactly what they stand for. Or as some suspect are the differences due to personality clashes, super egos and a failure to break from the bad habits learnt in previous organisations?

Irish Republicanism is a serious ideological strand in Irish politics. It should be infused with the democratic traditions of the United Irishmen. not dominated by the cults of militarism or the cults of leadership. It is up to the youth  inspired by the democratic ideals of both republicanism and socialism to forge a revolutionary Party 

At a time in all parts of Ireland when there needs to a class response to the attacks on the working classes the last thing we need republicans diverting their energies into dead end diversions. 

The impact of austerity measures has devastated working class standards of living. More are pushed into poverty, some into homelessness, and many forced to work for shit wages. North and South the working class are under the yolk of Imperialism. 

The class and national question are inextricably linked. To separate them is to actually play into the hands of the ruling class. Unless and until Republicans take the lead in the class struggle there is little or no chance that they will solve the national question. Every armed struggle up to now has failed. To keep going down the road that only leads to death or prison and with no progress towards the Republic is not only futile but counter -productive. Britain's hold on the six counties is now firmer that at any time since 1921.

There has to be a different approach. It has been left wing republicans from James Connolly, Liam Mellows, Seamus Costello and Ta Power who pointed out the road ahead. Connolly gave us the ideas of marxism. Mellows pointed out that without the workers, republicanism was doomed to defeat. Costello emphasised the dual nature of the class and national question and Power outlined the importance of the political role of the organisation
and like the others pointed out 

“we must strive towards uniting and politicising the working class no matter what obstacles confront us in our task, for we cannot win our struggle without the working class.”

Those who neglect ignore or downplay these lessons from our history only condemn future generations to perpetual cycles of defeat."

Al those who claim the mantle of Republicanism have a serious responsibility one hundred years after the Rising to re-evaluate what they are doing, learn the lessons of history and  begin to talk seriously to each other without the petty mindsets of previous years. Otherwise Republicanism is  doomed to send generations to jail while offering little or nothing to the working class. 

Was it for this that the Citizen Army, the volunteers  in 1916  rose up and  for this that Pearse Connolly and the other leaders died? For this?

Gerry Ruddy

Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Red Plough

Vol. 5-No 1
 March  2014

1/ The Redmondite Ghost

2/ Is a Socialist Republic Possible?



Following the broadcasting of a programme on “The Disappeared”  in 2013, there had been much speculation about the future of the current President of Provisional Sinn Fein, a Mr. Adams. The programme itself dealt with the fate of a number of individuals who were secretly killed and buried by the Provisional IRA. Among those who were “disappeared” was a Mrs Jean McConville, a widowed mother of 10 children all under the age of 16 when she was killed. Rather than admit her killing the PIRA in  Belfast put out rumours she was alive in the Shankill living with a man. Imagine the children thinking they had been abandoned by their mother! No one went to the aid of those 10 children. It was decades before the PIRA admitted they had killed her. 

It would be safe to assume that the leadership of the PIRA had sanctioned the policy of “disappearing.”  That policy was wrong, inhumane and to all intent and purpose, a war crime. It left relatives in the dark as to the fate of their loved ones. It left them with a gaping hole in their lives without the opportunity, for decades, to mourn.

It also blackened Irish Republicanism. Many volunteers in the IRA joined to take part in a struggle for the establishment of an Irish Republic on the island of Ireland. We can disagree with the tactics they used but many felt that the national question could only be resolved through the use of armed force.  Their intentions may have been genuine, their commitment to their cause unquestionable and their revolutionary ardour unequalled but they were betrayed by their leadership who led them them up the garden path.

In the early 1970’s their leaderships promised them a quick victory. 74 was to be the year of victory. That of course was a nonsense. By 1977 by his own words Mr.Adams was already beginning “peace talks.” Unfortunately he forgot to tell IRA volunteers this and they continued to engage in armed struggle for a further 17 years in which many people lost their lives. 

So there is a long history of Mr.Adams. What one can say is that Mr.Adams is a proven liar.

Mr. Adams denies being ever in the IRA. A lie. He was. Mr Adams denies having anything to do with the policy of the disappeared. A lie. He ordered the disappearance of at least Jean McConville. He protected his paedophile brother for years. Mr. Adams also abandoned every position he had held as a republican.
Smash Stormont! No to partition. No participation in partitionist parliaments. No decommissioning.” No talks until internment ends” etc etc etc.  

However Mr.Adams is really not the problem. It is the Provo Sinn Fein politics  that is the problem.When they were set up the Official Republican Movement (later to degenerate into the Workers Party) called them the Provisional Alliance.
Official IRA Patrol 
There was a strong element of truth in that description. It was an alliance of of traditional type republicans, rural nationalists, angry working class youths and some with left wing background.  Their initial statements were almost entirely based on anti-communism with a strong Catholic conservative  bias so it was no wonder that the free State Government courted elements of their leadership and tried to encourage republicans to “take out “ the leftist leadership of the Officials. Indeed until about 1975 Free State Intelligence services concentrated mainly on the “Sticks” and basically ignored the Provos.  Socialism was a bigger threat to the Southern establishment than armed nationalists.

It was the concept of nationalism that has come to dominate within PSF.   
Daniel O'Connell
John Redmond
All those who clung to basic republican principles were gradually sidelined , demonised, dismissed, or worse. A mind set was  established within the ranks of the PIRA and Provisional Sinn Fein of tight Stalinist-like control by a tiny kitchen cabinet who dictated every u-turn and reversal of policy.  Having been convinced by  John Hume and his clerical allies of the benefits of a pan -nationalist front involving the SDLP. PSF, the Irish Government and conservative Irish America that kitchen cabinet turned a genuine liberation struggle into a struggle for equality( a SDLP position) under British hegemony. 

The ghosts of Daniel O’Connell and John Redmond have embraced  Sinn Fein who now walk in their shadow!
Mr. Adams In Glasses

They  have inherited the mantle of Daniel O'Connell and John Redmond!Their acceptance of the capitalist system, their courting of multi-nationals and their dropping of any serious socialist ideas (only adopted to channel working class militancy) and their hounding and slandering of those who do not accept their volte face all shows how they had bought, or been bought, into the capitalism system. They stole the clothes of the SDLP!
They did a dirty squalid sectarian deal to gain power in the North but that power is illusionary.They can administer as long as the DUP  agree. But unfortunately for them Unionism has decided to renege on their commitments to the Good Friday Agreement and are now trying to turn the tide back towards Orange rule again. Thus  there has been little agreement over the past few years. The paralysis in Stormont has lead to increasing disillusionment among large sections  of the population and pushed more of them into entrenched sectarian positions. More protests about flags than the dismantling of the National health Service. So much for the unity of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter once articulated by the Adams loyalists. No the real power rests where it always has with the British ruling class. 

The fall out from the Downey affair was a classic illustration of the shaky institutions of the Northern State and of the dis-honourable compromises  made by the Adams republicans.

John Downey was an Irish Republican who joined the IRA. As a member of that organisation he probably took part in armed operations. He was arrested in Britain over  a year ago and charged in connection with the Hyde Park Bombing .. However he was released when it emerged he had been given, by mistake a letter from the PSNI saying he was not wanted for questioning either in Ireland or Britain. 

The letter was part of a procedure established as part of the peace process to allow the return of the “On the Runs” i.e. those republicans who thought they may be arrested for armed activities.
Outrage was expressed at Downey’s release by British and Unionist politicians who claimed not to know about the procedure. Peter Robinson, leader of the DUP and First Minister, threatened to resign if there was not a judicial Review in to the whole issue and if the letters to nearly two hundred “on the runs” were not withdrawn. However the quick decision by Cameron to appoint a judge to review the paper work took the heat out of the situation and let Robinson to boast he had won.

The reality is of course different. The procedure for the On the runs had been known all along by unionists.

On the 22nd of June 2007 The  Belfast Telegraph ran an article by Chris Thornton in which he wrote

Dozens already cleared to return but 'no plans for fresh legislation'
84 OTRs - the initials stand for on the runs - have already been cleared to return to Northern Ireland without facing jail time, according to statistics released to the Belfast Telegraph by the Attorney General's office.
That includes almost 50 people who spent at least a decade on the run but who were never wanted in the first place.
Material released under the Freedom of Information Act shows the number of OTRs is far higher than previous estimates.
The names of almost 200 people have been passed to the Government by Sinn Fein over the past seven years, while London wrestled with mechanisms to allow them to return.

For public consumption Unionist has pretended they did not know about the procedure yet only a year ago Gerry Kelly speaking about the Downey case said there was a letter telling Downy he was not wanted for questioning, yet Unionism did not respond. So why now? 

Over the past year 15 months loyalist have been protesting on the streets about the flying of the Union Flag only on designated days in Belfast City Council. Elections for local councils and the European parliament are coming up in May.

Robinson lost his Westminster Seat when, after the revelations about shady property deals, sections of the UDA supported the Alliance Party whose candidate subsequently won the seat. The DUP fear the loss of control of the more extreme elements in loyalism hence their support for the flag protests and allowing one of their members, Ruth Patterson to condone and collaborate with loyalist sectarianism. They fear loyalism will swing behind the Traditional Unionist Voice of Jim Allister who is a formidable voice for traditional unionism and a bitter opponent of the DUP of which he was once a leading member. So in East Belfast in a signal to Loyalism the DUP parachuted in Snowy White-an ex prisoner strongly connected to the UDA -as a candidate for them.

The UDA’S main opponents in loyalism is the UVF who are closely associated with the Progressive Unionist Party. Its current leader is Billy Hutchinsonwho only recently boasted that his killing of two Catholics had helped prevent a United Ireland. 

Unionism is in crisis and in a state of denial. An Alliance MLA has been attacked for correctly pointing out that Northern Ireland is an artificial state and a colony. There is an obsession with the symbols  of Britishness and  denial of the rights of Nationalists 

On the republican side, it is clear, that the ONR’s policy was only to be applied to Adams loyalists.  The recent arrest and charging of Ivor Bell, in relation to the Jean Mc McConville disappearance is a case in point. Bell a former chief of staff of the IRA disagreed with the Adams electoral line in the early eighties and was dismissed from the IRA. Recently he was supporting republican independent candidates for forthcoming elections. And lo and behold he was arrested and charged. Coincidence or what? 
Support for Ivor Bell Belfast 22/03/14

Given that Adam's name was the one freely bandied about as having ordered the execution of Jean McConville is this not strange?

There was an agreement between the Brits and Adam’ s Kitchen Cabinet, that only supporters of the Adams leadership would receive letters. Neither the INLA members, who were on the runs, were involved nor those so called dissidents who split from the Provos. Such a deal besmirched republicanism as indeed had acts of decommissioning by republicans, acceptance of the PSNI and helping to run the Northern state. And of course as to be expected the Brits reneged on the deal.

All around there are clear signs that neither the British nor the Unionists have any desire to keep their part of the Good Friday Agreement. Both the legal system and the PSNI show a strong unionist bias. The Irish language is ridiculed by the Loyal orders and there is no chance of an Irish Language Act. Republican prisoners are brutalised through regular strip searches. Housing policy is changing to ensure that Unionism retains majorities where they already hold seats. Racist and sectarian attacks are now almost a daily occurrence. 

Police Service of Northern Ireland

Incidents and Crimes with a Hate Motivation Recorded by the Police in Northern Ireland: Quarterly Update to 30 June 2013
Published 29 August 2013

The rulings of the Parade Commission are daily ignored by loyalist marches and paramilitary jeeps with masked supporters recently took part in a March towards Ardoyne a deprived nationalist ghetto. As Republican Socialists had predicted many years ago the Good Friday Agreement has failed. It has strengthened sectarianism divided working people and cemented British rule in ireland 

In politics there is always room to change ones’ mind or position. Even revolutionaries sometimes must give ground in the face of overwhelming odds.  There is no dishonour in taking steps back. There is no dishonour in admitting mistakes or accepting that tactics are not working.

But it is wrong to lie deceive and hoodwink those who are prepared to die for their cause. Honesty is not some bourgeois habit. It is essential for those who want to change society.

 It is essential  for republicans to acknowledge that republicanism has suffered a serious defeat. Both the campaigns waged by the Provo IRA and the INLA failed.  Any armed campaign based mainly on the passive support of sections of the northern catholic working class is always bound to fail. Furthermore developments in technology mean more and more activists will be caught and jailed or killed.  Time and time again history has shown that armed struggles in Ireland always end in defeat. Armed republicanism may have a “glorious” history in some peoples eyes but it also “glorious” defeat!

However it is not merely enough to decry those who still adhere to an armed struggle and point out is futility. As Joe Hill is reported to have said, “don’t mourn organise.”
Joe Hill
That also includes showing how other approaches rather than armed struggle work. The fantastic responses around Europe  by the masses against austerity measures show positive examples of how things can be.   As yet, opposition to austerity in both parts of Ireland has been patchy and disorganised. The left seems incapable of creating a unified mass movement because of the political sectarian attitudes of their leaderships. 

The creation of a revolutionary leadership is a major task facing the left. Republicanism if it to have any relevance must become part of the building of such a leadership. While Republicanism is divided and has little support within the broad section of the population it still remains a valid revolutionary tendency. However Republicanism must identify with the needs and aspirations of the mass of working people. Elitist ideas and attitudes, whether from Republicans or Marxists, do nothing to advance progressive ideas in Ireland.  

The ideas of James Connolly still retain a freshness and relevance today. 
Ireland has a number of political groupings and Parties that adhere to an ideology that they call “Republican Socialism” or “Socialist Republicanism.”. Indeed it is difficult to find any republican organisation that does not have as its aim the establishment of a Socialist Republic. All claim that they are in the tradition of James Connolly. Connolly’s definition of what a Republic would be was clear succinct and unambiguous.

“Establishment of AN IRISH SOCIALIST REPUBLIC based upon the public ownership by the Irish people of the land, and instruments of production, distribution and exchange. Agriculture to be administered as a public function, under boards of management elected by the agricultural population and responsible to them and to the nation at large. All other forms of labour necessary to the well-being of the community to be conducted on the same principles.”

He laid out a very clear template for both Republicans and Socialists of his time what that struggle for a Republic should be. Without changing the essential ownership of the means of production then 

“If you remove the English Army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle., unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts will be in vain. England will still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs”. - James Connolly, from Socialism and Nationalism in Shan Van Vocht, January 1897
That quotation has been repeated numerous times by republican socialists (including this author) to justify opposition to the many attempts since 1916 to “settle the Irish Question”.  
The greatness of Connolly was that he saw clearly that the class and national question were intertwined. Time has proven him correct.
Ever effort to solve the so called “Irish question” has so far failed. The class and national question are intertwined. Neglecting either is to sink into reformism or ultra leftism. Neither approach serves the interests of the working class. The national question is a class question. 


The answer to this question is yes. Equally it is possible for FC United of Manchester to win the FA Cup.......one day! In pursuit of the socialist republic many, many obstacles will be encountered and not only the loyalist/unionist opposition in North East Ulster. 
In the days of James Connolly, perhaps Irelands most forward thinking Marxist theorist, the building of socialism in Ireland was fraught with difficulties. The church, both major denominations, were, for once united in their opposition to such an ideology and, if push came to shove, would have perhaps buried their theological differences in defeating the great devil incarnate, socialism! Connolly, Jim Larkin and the men and women who marched out at Easter week 1916, not all by any stretch of the imagination socialist, were fighting the largest empire in world history, the British. This was no easy task and should never be underestimated in its magnitude relative to the times. The rising was defeated within one week, resulting in the execution by military firing squad of fifteen men including two socialists, James Connolly and Michael Mallin, and one man, Roger Casement hanged in London. This defeat, in military terms, was certainly a moral victory and planted the seeds for further rebellions. However fighting the British Empire, hard as it was, did not necessarily mean fighting capitalism. After all the ogre of the 1913 Dublin Lockout, William Martin Murphy, was a home rule MP who opposed the very idea of the partition of Ireland when that concept was first muted. His opposition was based very much on wishing to have a larger market to plunder and huger workforce to exploit for even greater profits. Murphy epitomised the face of Irish capitalism.                                                       
W.M Murphy arch capitalist and ogre of 1913
Had he lived he would have most likely supported, but not fought for, the anti-treaty side in the civil war for the aforementioned reasons. He was certainly no friend or ally of the proletariat and socialism. Murphy and his kind would not have fought on the anti-treaty side, neither would he have given too much public support, these people were far too astute for that and would not have fancied repercussions from the victors should they be the pro-treaty side, which turned out to be the result. No, these men wanted to hedge their bets, though preferring a united capitalist Ireland ripe for exploitation, they would and did settle for a twenty six county free state. There were other elements of the Irish bourgeoisie, perhaps a majority, who settled for the twenty six county variant from the start, though again in most cases did not pick up a rifle to fight for it. That, like wealth creating, was for the working class to do and for them, the bourgeoisie to reap the benefits.
Times have moved on since the times of James Connolly, Michael Mallin and Jim Larkin but the principles they were fighting for remain the same. The industrialisation of the modern world was completed some years ago and the means of production, distribution and exchange now, as then are all in private hands. The working class are still the working class or, as Andre Gortz calls the new workers in highly advanced computerised industries the “Neo-Proletariat” or new working class. 

This section of the working class, despite being up to their necks in mortgage debt, still selling their “labour power” for a monetary wage thus making them modern wage slaves consider themselves, for some odd reason, middle class. These people are one of the many obstacles faced when trying to build the socialist republic. The ”Neo-Proletariat” comprise a sizable number of the modern working class and will increase as the old “fordist” industries disappear and those which remain are highly mechanised with robots doing the jobs and tasks once performed by workers. Again there is no harm in this technological advancement, it should benefit all of us making life easier and pleasurable for all. The fact is it doesn’t simply because this modern means of production are in the same private hands, all it brings for the majority working class is unemployment and poverty, marriage breakdown and in some cases suicide. 

A major factor which must be included in any form of socialism is the common ownership, under proletarian control, of the means of production, distribution and exchange including all the pose-modern advancements. The bourgeoisie will not give them up voluntarily just because some radical left wing party has gained political (as opposed to real power) power for a four or five year term of office. No, unfortunately, all these goodies will have to be wrestled from them and all the forces at their disposal will be sent out to defend the status-quo. These forces, just as in 1913, include the police, An Garda Síochána, formerly RIC and in Dublin the DMP, the Irish Army all of which would come to the defence of the Irish bourgeoisie. What the bourgeoisie of Ireland gained in the War Of Independence, 1919-21, they are going to keep unless the balance of class forces alter and the working class seize what is rightly theirs.
All the problems and barriers facing those trying to build socialism in Ireland are chiefly domestic and, left isolated, not insurmountable. Unfortunately in today’s world of high financed multi-national capitalism things are not that clear cut or simple. Modern capitalism is international, once a term reserved for socialism on the grounds of international solidarity, has been hijacked by the international bourgeoisie. Very powerful groups, far above any national governments, such as the Bildenberg Group consisting of the worlds leading bankers, industrialists, monarchs and technocrats, have grown out of this international concept of capitalism. It would be very, very foolish for any organisation to underestimate the power of such organisations. There are other similar pro-capitalist organisations, for example in the EU Business Europe which IBEC (Irish Business Employers Confederation, the successors to W.M. Murphy’s Dublin Employers Federation of 1913) are Irelands’ voice,   and in times of crisis all of them sing from the very same hymn sheet. These are not arguments not to fight for socialism in Ireland but merely to point out many obstacles normally overlooked in the discourse of various organisations aiming at establishing a socialist republic.
Another factor worthy, very worthy of mention is the various constitutional military forces in Ireland. In the 26 counties we have the Irish (free state) army and in the occupied six counties there is the presence of the British army, the stronger of the two no doubt. The Irish army would come, in all probability, to the defence of native capitalism and the interests of the multi-nationals based on Irish soil. The British army, as they have proved in Britain itself, would defend British capitalism and the trans-nationals which Britain is a component part, having large companies operating in other countries themselves, to the point of shooting workers, even their own biological brothers and sisters. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) fought a long war against this army of occupation, the latter under the banner “for national liberation and socialism” linking the two struggles of nation and class into one.  
A major barrier to building a united socialist republic in Ireland is the forced partition of the country. A divided country leads to a divided working class, something which James Connolly argued against all those years ago. In the six counties under British occupation the loyalist/unionist proletariat appear more concerned which days of the year they can fly the imperialist flag rather that how they are going to find their next meal.

The flag in question is an antithesis to socialism and, if they could only see it, against their, the loyalist/unionist working class, bread and butter interests. As James Connolly once pointed out “you can’t eat a flag”. A strange mentality to say the least but another barrier to unification, without which socialism would be difficult, and a huge symptom of partition. As we have already visited and concluded the British army in the occupied areas represent the interests of the British ruling class, or at least that was once the case.
Whether that applies to the same extent today is open to question. One former British Secretary Of State for “Northern Ireland” is on record as saying Britain has no longer “any major political, economic or military” interests in remaining in Ireland. Was he telling the truth? If he was why are they still there? Why have Military Intelligence Five, MI5, reportedly opened a large new building in Belfast, the North Of Irelands capital city? This certainly suggests the British are going nowhere soon! 
The question is, are the forces of the crown there as servants of Britain or members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)? Probably at the moment they are British first NATO second but this may not always be the case as the cleavage is certainly narrowing. Some may argue the two roles are indistinguishable! They may have a point!! Would a united non-socialist Ireland perhaps suit the British? In the late 1960s an idea was discussed between three Irish TDs regarding the situation in the North. Neil Blaney, Kevin Boland and Charlie Haughey discussed a plan involving “a direct approach to the British government and seek their approval for sections of the Irish Army to enter Northern Ireland at two points – one giving it access and eventual control of Derry in the North West; the other, through Dundalk to Newry. It was accepted that Catholics in Belfast would have to wait until Belfast and Newry were secured”( The Dirty War Martin Dillon P: 7). 

The British Prime Minister of the day, Harold Wilson,
was not unsympathetic to a united Ireland, perhaps with certain socialistic trimmings, labourism, as was the UK Labour party policy at the time. Should this have come about it would NOT have equalled socialism so no illusions should be gathered on the what if basis. Such a condition may have paved the way to achieve socialism if we ignore NATO. 

Blaney claimed until his dying day that “the British government waited for forty eight hours before sending troops into Northern Ireland to allow the Irish government time to make the proposed incursions” (ibid). Judging by Neil Blaney' s recollection the British government of the day were happy enough to see a united Ireland of sorts and most definitely under the capitalist economic umbrella. They were not, however, taking into account of the plight the Catholics of Belfast would have faced from a loyalist backlash before Irish troops could get there. The IRA of the time was very small and ill equipped to launch any form of defence in Belfast and the INLA was yet to come into being.
Even today a situation, should it come about, where a withdrawal of British forces from the north and unification (not socialist) were feasible would it not be to the advantage of Britain? A settled Ireland on its western flank trouble free would certainly suit most as it would be a scenario which has never existed since pre 1169! It would certainly be an improvement on the present situation, perhaps somewhere in the Good Friday Agreement signed in 1998 there are hidden provisions with or without, though preferably with, loyalist/ unionist approval! If this question was to be seriously contemplated, which may suit Britain, would it suit the United States of America? “It is doubtful America would permit it unless some accommodation were also provided under which Britain was enabled readily to continue monitoring Americas Atlantic defences”.
“A United Ireland so independent as to be open to extreme socialist government (by force or not, from without or within) would be a substantial threat to United States policy and interests and to NATO” (The Civil War 1922-23 Eoin Neeson P:12). On the other hand a united Ireland willing to become a full integrated member of NATO, thus safeguarding the Eastern seaboard of the USA would almost certainly be acceptable to both the US and Britain. The loyalists/unionists would count for little under such a scenario, they should remember this. Being a full integrated member of NATO would also give the bourgeoisie, orange and green, Christian, Muslim, Jew and Atheist the guarantees they would need against the rise of the working class and socialism.
These are some, though by no means all, of the problems faced by those attempting to build socialism in a modern Ireland. Sin Fein formerly the political voice of the IRA have watered down their policies to such an extent that a united Ireland is seldom mentioned. They now have fourteen TDs in the Irish parliament, Dail Eireann, and the once often voiced “FOR A SOCIALIST REPUBLIC” is never mentioned. Today the once custodian of republican, not necessarily republican socialist, ideology are now a left of centre pro capitalist party. The policies of the modern Sinn Fein party are not dissimilar to those advocated by the labour governments of the British Labour Party in the 1960s under Harold Wilson. Sinn Fein do, at this moment in time, stand a good chance of becoming part of an Irish government in the 26 counties possibly at the next or following election. They are already involved in the “Power Sharing Executive” based at Stormont in the 6 counties, a situation brought about through the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 resulting in an IRA, though not immediately INLA, ceasefire. Perhaps this is modern Sinn Fein united Irish policy, sitting on what amounts to a large metropolitan local council in the north and being part of a bourgeois government in the south. This would, of course, mean accepting partition which they vowed to remove and still to this aim pay lip service.
Another problem which would face a united socialist republic of Ireland is the currency of exchange. If we were to use either sterling or the euro which are both geared to the gold reserves we would face problems having a completely planned economy, an essential ingredient of socialism. We would have to trade with the capitalist world, probably readopting some of their trappings! One major boost would be for the proletariat of England, Scotland Wales and Cornwall to rise up against their oppressive capitalist masters and their agents. Even better if this were to be European wide. This is of course living, for the time being, in the land of, at best speculation and at worst fantasy.
This short piece has narrated the negatives involved in building socialism and purposely so. These problems must be addressed, not before we start building the socialist alternative, but while we are doing so. I am not trying to say when anybody is trying to get people involved with socialistic plans within their areas they start off by threatening NATO annihilation should socialism, through revolution or otherwise be successful. No that would be a foolish approach to say the least. 

It is at local level, both in the workplace and residential areas, through trade union organisation and street committees where the seeds of socialism and therefore working class emancipation begins. It is here that a class consciousness among the proletariat develops. All the problems I have highlighted above are not, in most cases of immediate concern, but an awareness of them, and knowledge and preparation for when, and they will, come into play is important. For warned is for armed. At the moment there is no need to give these issues priority attention, that would be counterproductive, after all who would subscribe to an ideology which may result in their, or their families deaths? It should be remembered, however, that ideas and militancy levels change in struggle and that is one of our great weapons.
Caoimhin O’Muraile.