Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The Red Plough

Vol. 1-No- 6

Monday March 22nd 2010

E-mail newsletter

1) Editorial

2) A Tribute To Denis Murphy

3) The Forward March Of Republicanism Halted?

4) A Fundamentalist’s Cover up

5) On Religion-Karl Marx

6) What’s on


We carry a tribute to an IRSP comrade, Denis Murphy who died recently in Dublin. Denis, like many others, saw the connection between the class and national question- that they were inseparable. Though’ once a member of the WRP, Denis did not carry any political sectarian baggage with him and worked hard and unselfishly for the working class.

The oration was delivered at the graveside in Bodenstown Graveyard by Kevin Morley, a long time comrade of Denis.

Liam O’Ruaric has delivered an important speech recently on Irish Republicanism. We reprint it here and believe that it can contribute to the ongoing debate on the relevance of republicanism. The Red Plough will be happy to republish any response to this document.

The turmoil going on in the Roman Catholic Church is dealt with in the article” A Fundamentalist’s Cover up.”


Firstly and perhaps most importantly on behalf of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement I would like to offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Denis Murphy on your sad loss. No amount of words can compensate for your grief.

I have known Denis since the mid 1980s when he first became involved with the Irish Republican Socialist Party. Denis believed vehemently in workers rights and ultimate emancipation from the chains of capitalism, which restricts working class development. These ideas were epitomised in the early 1980s during the Clondalkin Paper Mills dispute resulting in workers occupation of the mills. Denis would often speak of these days with a certain amount of justifiable pride for his class and his own involvement in the heroic stance taken by the workers of the mills against an aggressive management.

At this time Denis was a member and activist in the Workers Revolutionary Party an organisation which was dedicated, like Denis, to working class emancipation and could boast celebrities like the actress Vanessa Redgrave in their ranks. However for Denis an integral part of this emancipation of the working class included, certainly in its Irish context, the national liberation of Ireland. This of course meant a British withdrawal from the six counties and unfortunately the Workers Revolutionary Party were not up to the mark in this respect.

This led Denis, along with some other comrades, to join the ranks of the Irish Republican Socialist Party which linked the struggle for working class emancipation and the struggle for national liberation as part and parcel of the same struggle. Denis remained loyal to the IRSP and active within its ranks up until his recent illness and ultimate sad departure. He saw political activity as encompassing many facets and not, as some did, merely as armed struggle. Even though he realised the importance of this tactic it was not and is not the be all and end all of politics or a sacred cow. Denis believed in the primacy of politics over violence even though he realised that unfortunately this was sometimes a necessary evil.

The political activities and participations of Denis Murphy ranged from selling The Starry Plough, which is the organ of the IRSP, to involving himself in such campaigns as anti racism to combating the scourge of drugs. His commitment to fighting against the problem of drugs and substance abuse within working class communities culminated with him working on a voluntary basis, leading eventually to full time employment, for the Crumlin Drug and Substance abuse Centre, a job he held dear to his heart. Denis also involved himself in trade union activity and various other aspects of work both within his community and at the point of production, and this is to mention but a few examples of the work Denis immersed himself in.

Denis along with myself were IRSP delegates to the Anti Racist Campaign an organisation dedicated to the cause of minority rights and fighting the evils of deportation. Coupled with these campaigns Denis also saw the potential of entering elections and in the late 1990s that is precisely what he did entering the local elections on an IRSP ticket. He knew he stood little chance of winning a seat in these elections but this did not deter him from taking part. It was an occasion, which won Denis many friends within his own community and the broader political sphere. He surprised many of his critics during these elections many who thought he would not even reach the fifty mark in terms of votes. How wrong they were as he polled remarkably well for his first attempt surpassing even his own expectations and thus silencing those bar room critics who thought the idea was a joke. Perhaps these people should take a valid lesson from the courage of Denis Murphy. Nice one Denis.

Denis showed courage and commitment to his politics and ideals right to the end. Whenever there was a commemoration to the fallen of the republican socialist movement and, indeed, republicans in general he would be ever present. From the annual Wolfe Tone commemoration to that of volunteer John Morris Denis Murphy could be relied upon to be in the ranks.

Denis will be sadly missed firstly and fore mostly by his family but also by the republican socialist movement as a whole. Such campaigners and political activists as Denis are few and far between, often irreplaceable, and his absence within the ranks of the IRSP will be sorrowfully noticed.

By Liam O’Ruaric

“Philosophy, which once seemed obsolete, lives on because the moment to realize it was missed. The summary judgement that it had merely interpreted the world…becomes a defeatism of reason after the attempt to change the world has miscarried.” (T.W.Adorno, Negative Dialektik, Frankfurt/M : Suhrkamp Verlag, 1966, 3)

“I don’t claim to have solved any problems. I am merely suggesting that a moment came when it no longer frightened me to look at what happened…I have been struggling to say goodbye to something for a long time now, and this struggle is all that really matters. The story is not in the words ; it is in the struggle.” (Paul Auster, The New York Trilogy, London: Faber, 1987, 294)

I will set the crisis of republicanism within a comparative context first by working out a historical parallel between what is going on today with republicanism in the six counties and what historically happened to republicanism in the 26 counties, and secondly by linking it to the global crisis of the left who sought to radicalise the democratic content of the enlightenment.

When the Irish Free State was set up in the 1920s it was the product of a civil war and state institutions suffered from significant legitimacy deficit. Therefore there was significant political space for anti-treaty republicanism and radical politics to grow. As we all know, Fianna Fail went into the state with the intent to subvert it from within and ultimately became part and parcel of the very institutions it intended to destroy. But in the process, it successfully enacted a number of reforms which satisfied the political demands and materials interests of the majority of the population. With time this enabled the 26 county state to increase its legitimacy in the eyes of a growing number of people who previously opposed its institutions. Because of these relatively successful reforms, the political space available for traditional republicanism and radical politics instead of increasing became more and more restricted. Thus today traditional republicanism carries very marginal political weight in the 26 counties. For example, Republican Sinn Fein has only one elected councillor, while the political party of Mary Lou McDonald finds it difficult to get more than four TDs elected; and even if it did it would be difficult for Adams to succeed with 6 TDs where De Valera failed with 60.

My thesis is that today a similar process is at work in the six counties. For decades more than a third of its population was deeply alienated from its institutions. The Orange State, as Michael Farrell called it in his classic book, suffered from fundamental legitimacy deficit in the eyes of its Nationalist population. (1) Therefore, there was significant space for republicanism or radical politics to develop. In 1998, the party of Gerry Adams went into Stormont with the intent to transform it from within as part of a transitional strategy towards an Ireland of equals. It ended up
“administering British rule in Ireland for the foreseeable future” to quote senior member Francie Molloy (2) and criminalising republicans still engaged in armed actions against the British state. But thanks to its strong advocacy of fair employment and human rights legislation included within the Belfast Agreement, it succeeded in creating ‘parity of esteem’ and ‘equality’ for Nationalists in the six counties.

The material conditions of existence of the Nationalist population of the North have never been as good as they are now. It is undeniable that the educational, economic and cultural indices for the newly emergent nationalist population are rising. (3) Leading Provisional Sinn Fein member Jim Gibney claims that he is proud to be a ‘sixty niner’ as thanks to the struggle of people of that generation nationalists will never again be second-class citizens. (4)

"The north we live in today is not the same north of Ireland in which we grew up, where we suffered discrimination, where we were curfewed and interned and shot down on our streets when we protested, where political expression was censored and banned and nationalist votes did not count. ... I repeat, the six counties that I and my parents grew up in does not exist any more...The peace process and republicans changed all of that. Today nationalists and republicans have significant political power and influence. ...Real change is represented by the all-Ireland ministerial council, by nationalist MLAs in the assembly and various committees and in the strength and growth of the Irish language across the north. It is represented in the absence of British soldiers on our streets, in the absence of British fortresses, in the absence of a loyalist militia like the UDR or RIR and in the dismantling of repressive laws. It is represented in the existence of the human rights and equality commissions, in the presence of republicans and nationalists on the Policing Board and in the new police service, the PSNI." (5)

Sean Lynch was Officer Commanding the Provisional IRA in the Maze Prison from 1992 until 1995 and is now chairman of Sinn Fein in Fermanagh. He says the North of Ireland today bears no comparison to the "one party sectarian state" in which he grew up, where "unionists dominated and discriminated" and "nationalists were second class citizens, denied rights in their own country". Mr. Lynch says:

"The Peace Process and republicans have changed all that." ... "The Sinn Fein peace strategy has been hugely successful. The Orange State, as I knew it, is gone. The political relationships on the island are being redefined. The union is hollowed out as an increasingly confident nationalist community takes co-ownership of the Northern and All-Ireland Institutions. The Irish language and national identity in the six counties is vibrant. I have five nieces and nephews under the age of 10 who are fluent Gaelic speakers and proud of their cultural identity. The North is being demilitarised, the police are coming under the account of Irish people rather than British securicrats,"
he adds." (6) Gerry Adams has stated that "the Orange State as we knew it is gone", (7) something also acknowledged by some of his republican opponents. (8)

Martin McGuinness also emphasizes that “ the Orange state has gone and the Orange state is never, ever coming back. “ (9)

Things have changed so much that some even warn that the North is in danger of becoming “a cold house for Protestants”. (10) This has enabled British rule in the six counties to increase its legitimacy in the eyes of a growing number of nationalists. Thus while in the past Provisionals promised no return to Stormont, their argument today is "Why should we be afraid of Stormont? It’s our parliament too." (11)

The extent to which six counties institutions are increasing in legitimacy can also be illustrated by the acceptance of a growing number of Nationalists of British policing. The repressive apparatus of the British state has become sufficiently acceptable for the party of Gerry Adams to call for the creation of a special unit to deal with so-called ‘dissidents’. (12)

Let us recall here that the only ‘dissident’ republicans are those administering British rule in Stormont. As Henry Patterson notes,
in terms of Irish Republicanism it is Adams and McGuinness who are the real ‘dissidents’ having consigned all their most sacred principles to the dustbin of history “ (13)

The consequence of all this is that the political space for traditional republicanism is getting smaller.

Anthony McIntyre noted that: 'Dissident is like disease' according to one source, they are 'hated more than the RUC, the British Army or the SAS'. (14) Traditional Republicans are now more hated by ordinary nationalists than crown forces.

The Belfast Agreement has a double logic. On the one hand, it represents a defeat for republicanism, copper fastens partition and strengthens British rule. But on the other hand its also represents a victory for nationalism in at least two respects. The first, which I have just discussed is that it advances nationalist communal interests within the North itself. As Suzanne Breen points out:
There has been undeniable advancement in many areas for Catholics in the North, but within existing constitutional arrangements.”(15)

The result has been an aggressive nationalist triumphalism, in the words of Paul Bew a transition “from ethnic rage to ethnic vanity”. (16)
Or to paraphrase Malachi O Doherty, the
‘Most Oppressed People Ever’ have now become the ‘Most Successful People Ever’.

The second respect in which it represents a victory for nationalism is the shift from republicanism to identity politics. The politics of New Sinn Fein are now essentially about the recognition of the nationalist ‘identity’ and ensuring its ‘parity of esteem’ within the North, thus enabling nationalism to dominate republicanism, the particularist element dominating the universal as Kevin discussed earlier. With the principle of consent accepted and Republicanism defeated, nationalists have concentrated their attention on culture, marches, flags and symbols.

For example, New Sinn Fein calls for equality at Stormont no longer for its abolition: statues of Republican icons should be placed at Stormont to make it more welcoming for Nationalists the party has stated. (17) As Eamonn McCann points out:

“ It’s because some Nationalists are uneasy at their own acceptance of Northern Ireland that they feel they have to make a show of rhetorical opposition to it. It is because in practical terms they have endorsed the legitimacy of the Northern Ireland state that they denounce symbolic representations of it all the more loudly.” (18)

The shift from real issues to symbolic ones is part of general trend of transforming political aspirations to cultural ones. (19) For example, The Economist notes that

“(the) Irish (language) gives Sinn Fein a popular issue to cover its climb-down from traditional demands for Irish unity.” (20)

The crisis of republicanism and the diminishing political space for it cannot be seen in isolation from international trends, the crisis of the left in particular.

There is a strong relation between the crisis of actually existing socialism and actually existing national liberation movements; both of whom attempted to radicalise the democratic content of the enlightenment. Even when it was at its strongest, in no Western European countries has the communist movement in its various forms been able to break the hegemony of social democracy over the majority of workers or mount a significant political challenge to the state.

Reformism has been sufficiently successful to close that political space and legitimise bourgeois democracy and the capitalist state in the eyes of the vast majority of workers in general and those on the left in particular.

The counter-revolutions in 1989 which destroyed actually existing socialism and other historical set backs such as the defeat of the 1984 miners strike in Britain have aggravated the crisis further. Mass membership of trade unions and political parties of the left is a pale shadow of once was, ensuring in the words of the historian Eric Hobsbawm that “the forward march of labour is halted “. (21)

In terms of consciousness and organisation the left today is very weak. The very concept of the political left is now in question as today there seems to be a consensus between political parties formally of the left and the right that there is no solution to the current crisis, only good or bad management of it. Today, as Frederic Jameson perspicaciously remarked, few seriously consider alternatives to capitalism any longer. Or as Slavoj Zizek puts it:
"It is easier to imagine the ‘end of the world’ than a far more modest change in the mode of production." (22)

It is my belief that the fundamental characteristic of this period for progressive and democratic projects is one of defeat and failure. As Perry Anderson wrote ten years ago:
“ The only point for a realistic Left today is a lucid registration of historical defeat. Capital has comprehensively beaten back all threat to its rule, the bases of whose power…were persistently underestimated by the socialist movement…No collective agency able to match the power of capital is yet on the horizon.” (23)

Significant sections of the left and of republicanism believe that developments since 2008 are changing this. They argue that the current economic crisis creates opportunities for a left project to emerge. Republican Sinn Fein states that
“ the recent stand made by the youth of Belfast, Derry, Armagh and other nationalist areas in taking on Crown forces in defence of their communities is a clear signal that the spirit of resistance is still very much alive.” (24)

To such ‘optimism of the will’ one can oppose the ‘pessimism of the intellect’. (25) There is no automatic connection between economic crisis and political crisis and workers no longer identify their struggles with the need for a socialist society. Comparing the situation of the 1930s with the current one, a Guardian columnist concluded last month that
“ After 1929 a generation leapt leftward. Not today. Socialism has been buried. The Wall Street crash of 1929 and ensuing slump drove a whole generation leftward. What is striking is that this has not happened again, and how little damage the latest financial crisis has made to the repute of the existing order.” (26)

Similarly, while republican actions obstruct the normalisation of the six counties they remain at
“an ‘acceptable level of violence’ albeit at a far lower level than when the phrase was first coined “ as Hugh Orde pointed last week. (27)

But all this should not detract us that if the space for political projects such as republicanism or socialism which radicalise the enlightenment’s democratic and emancipatory content is narrow, it is nevertheless real for a number of reasons. To argue that the post Belfast Agreement Northern Ireland “is ‘more stable’ and ‘more legitimate’ is not the same thing as suggesting that it is either stabilised or legitimised.” (28)

Irish Republicanism is not yet a "dead dog" that can be ignored or passed over. It played a significant historical role, and is still a major element in Irish political life today. It is impossible to build a left current that either ignores or remains outside Republicanism. To ignore it would be ignoring the experience of history and a major political force today.

Also there is a democratic content within Republicanism that has not yet exhausted itself. The fact that there exists within Irish Republicanism a conservative as well as a radical element, and that there is a militarist and elitist tendency as well as a democratic and popular one should of course not be passed over. What is essential is that there is within Republicanism a potential for radical development. The task ahead is to develop that radical potential. We could characterise Republicanism in the same way Jurgen Habermas characterised modernity: 'an unfinished project.' (29) In 1989 Daithi O Conaill stated that the Republican movement’s true role was to be the
“ catalyst for the progressive forces of this country and abroad “ (30)
That is the main challenge we face today.

(1) Michael Farrell, Northern Ireland: The Orange State, London: Pluto Press, 1976
(2) Quoted in Liam Clarke and Michael Jones, Trimble shows more flexibility over IRA arms, The Sunday Times 28 March 1999
(3) The hand of history, revisited, The Economist, 3 April 2008
(4) Jim Gibney, Spirit of ’69 still hindered by obstacles, The Irish News, 21 July 2005
(5) Jim Gibney, Armed action have no place in today's Ireland, The Irish News, 12 March 2009
(6) Chris Donegan, I fought the war but the war is over says Lynch, The Impartial Reporter, 26 March 2009
(7) Barry McCaffrey, Adams: Dissidents must not hijack republicanism, The Irish News, 13 April 2009
(8) According to Fourthwrite the Belfast Agreement "signalled an end to the Orange State" (Editorial, There is another way, Fourthwrite, Issue 35, Spring 2009)
(9) ‘The Orange state is gone forever’: McGuinness, The Derry Journal, 23 February 2010
(10) Reid warning over alienation, BBC website, 21 November 2001
(11) Tim Pat Coogan, The IRA, London: HarperCollins, fifth revised and updated edition, 2000, 715
(12) Adrian Rutherford and Deborah McAleese, Dissident Attacks prompt calls for special PSNI unit, The Belfast Telegraph, 10 March 2010
(13) Henry Patterson, Inevitable deal would be mix of clarity and vagueness, The Newsletter, 6 February 2010
(14) Anthony McIntyre, Of Myths and Men in: Aaron Edwards and Stephen Bloomer, Transforming the Peace Process in Northern Ireland: From terrorism to democratic politics, Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2008, 123
(15) Suzanne Breen, ‘I’ll jail McGuinness any day soon’, jokes Paisley, The Sunday Tribune, 6 May 2007
(16) Paul Bew, The Making and Remaking of the Good Friday Agreement, Dublin : The Liffey Press, 2007, 71
(17) Damian McCarney, Equality call for flags and emblems at Stormont, Andersonstown News, 15 May 2007
(18) Eamonn McCann, Rooting for England, The Sunday Journal, 11 September 2005
(19) Mark Ryan, War and Peace in Ireland, London : Pluto Press, 1994, 135
(20) A tongue-twister of a dispute, The Economist, 25 September 2008
(21) Eric Hobsbawm, The Forward March of Labour Halted? Marxism Today, September 1978, pp.279-286
(22) Slavoj Zizek (ed), Mapping Ideology, London: Verso, 1994, p.1
(23) Perry Anderson, Renewals, New Left Review 1, January-February 2000, 16
(24) Republican youth take on Brits, Saoirse, August 2009
(25) Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1971, 175
(26) Geoffrey Wheatcroft, After 1929 a generation leapt leftward. Not today. Socialism has been buried, The Guardian, 9 February 2010
(27) Brian Rowan, Why we should consider dialogue with dissidents, The Belfast Telegraph, 11 March 2010
(28) Robbie McVeigh, Racism and Sectarianism in Northern Ireland, in Sara O Sullivan (ed) Contemporary Ireland: A Sociological Map, Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2007, 416
(29) Jurgen Habermas, Die Moderne – ein unvollendetes Projekt, in Jurgen Habermas, Kleine Politische Schriften (I-IV), Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1981, pp.444-464
(30) Daithi O Conaill, Eire Nua : Best basis for peace and justice, Saoirse, July 1989

Speech given at
reproduced at

A Fundamentalist’s Cover up

The Roman Catholic Church is in a deep state of crisis caused mainly by the rash of revelations about persistent sexual abuse of minors by Priests lasting over decades. But what also causes serious concerns for members of that Church is the cover-up over years by those in the highest authority of that Church. The Vatican knew from 1962 that a significant number of priests were raping children. A secret order called “The Crimen Sollicitationis” ordered Bishops to swear their victims to secrecy and then to move the offending priest from Parish to Parish. That order determined the way many Bishops acted as they did since then until the late 1990’s.

The current Head of the Roman Catholic Church is Pope Benedict, formerly known as Joseph Ratzinger. During his teenage years and nearing the end of the 2nd World War Ratzinger was a member, allegedly involuntary, of Hitler Youth movement. However when he became a priest he moved towards a modernist agenda. He studied theology and was regarded as a leading moderniser and a very important theologian so much so, that he was adviser to the German Bishops at the Vatican 11 Council from 1963-65.

The second Vatican Council was attended by over 2,800 bishops during that time and had been called by Pope John 23RD to bring the Roman Catholic Church into the modern age. It saw the biggest shake up of that Church since the Reformation of the 16th century.

However Ratzinger’s modernism was short lived. Faced with the radicalisation of the student movement of the late sixties and the espousal of Marxist ideas by millions world wide including many younger radicalised priests, particularly in South America, he reverted to the authoritarian ideals of his youth. For example faced with the growth of a youth culture influenced by music and a libertarian life style Ratzinger saw pop music as “ a vehicle of anti-religion.”

During Ratzinger’s time as Archbishop of Munich at least one paedophile priest was moved from parish to parish. Ratzinger now claims he did not know this.

Yet when moved to Rome, where he became the “Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” he insisted as the person in charge of the Vatican’s response to priestly paedophilia that every case be referred to him. That happened for 20 years.

The BBC’s Panorama programme exposed the case of priest Tarcisio Spricigo first accused in 1991 in Brazil. The Vatican moved him four times and he was only stopped in 2005, after 14 years of continuous abuse of young children when the police caught him. That was on Ratzinger’s watch.

Indeed in 2001 he issued another strict secret order that charges of child rape should be investigated by the Church

“in the most secretive way….restrained by perpetual silence…. and everyone .. is to observe the strictest secrecy.”

A Vatican Lawyer, Fr. Tom Doyle, publicly said that this policy
“is an explicit written policy to cover up cases of child sexual abuse and to punish those who would call attention to these crimes.”

Needless to say he was sacked.

As the “hard man at the Vatican, Ratzinger saw his role as defending and protecting the name of the Church while paying scant attention to its victims. As “Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” he purged the liberal Swiss Theologian, Hans Kung.

The founder of the “Legionaries of Christ” Marcial Maciel was accused by numerous young priests, of abusing them sexually.

Ratzinger forced him to resign and his punishment was to live a life of prayer and penitence. There was no consideration for the victims. Later two of Maciel’s illegitimate sons accused him of the repeated rape of them from the age of seven. (“The Legionaries of Christ” was a favourite religious order of the previous Pop.)

Since becoming Pope he has hardened his authoritarian stance. In a 2006 lecture in Germany he quoted a Byzantine emperor

“Show me what Mohammed brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman”

This was and is grossly insulting to the Muslim world.

In the same year at Auschwitz, he managed to offend Jews by only mentioning by name, Christian victims of the Holocaust. Furthermore the reason for the Holocaust, (in which 6 million Jews died) was because

“deep down those vicious criminals wanted to kill the God who called Abraham-------By destroying Israel they ultimately wanted to tear up the taproot of the Christian faith.”

He welcomed back in to the RC Church the Society of St Pius X one of whose Bishops, Richard Wiliamson, denied the truth of the Holocaust.

In Africa facing a huge Aids epidemic he condemned the use of condoms claiming they would make matters worse.

He refused to sign a United Nations declaration on the rights of Gays and the disabled.
In Brazil he denied that the local indigenous people had an alien religion forced on them.

So at the heart of the Roman Catholic Church is a darkness of authoritarianism, self –delusion, paranoia and a culture of cover-up and denial of human sexuality that has spawned the monster of paedophilia.

It is now no wonder that the secret veil that Church threw over its priests to protect the “good name of the Church” has been ripped asunder by the victims of physical sexual and emotional abuse endured for decades, not only in Ireland, but now clearly seen, world wide.

Victims were sworn to secrecy on oath. Priest abusers and victims (depending on their social class), were given payoffs. The priest abusers were shifted around country to country, parish to parish, to continue to prey on the innocent whilst those who knew, and paid off, and covered up these dreadful crimes, rose through the ranks of that Church to the highest positions whilst their flocks in ignorance of the reality, continued to touch their forelocks whilst the holy ones passed by. The same policy was also carried out in schools under the control of the RC Church.

Now all changed. Daily new evidence emerges of the crimes of cover-ups abuses and payoffs of the RC Church. Many of its victims have had their lives totally ruined or been so traumatised that they have been unable to maximise their human potential or live life to the fullest.

That is why it is so important for socialist to take a very clear and unambiguously clear line on the role of religious institutions in society. All religious schools should be self –financed. The state should neither subsidise religious school nor the preparatory schools of the middle classes (as they are in the North of Ireland)

Religion and the state need to be clearly separated. Socialists and republicans need to articulate as clearly as possible the need for a secular state. That of course does not mean the denigration of religious belief nor the persecution of religious beliefs. To deny the expression of ideas or beliefs does not make the belief go away.

Our world is full of irrational ideas. Some people believe in fairies and ghosts. Others believe the working class in Ireland are a bourgeoisified reactionary parasitic (see The Red Plough Vol 1-4)

The religious right in the USA want to replace the USA constitution with the Bible
“The Bible states reality for all areas of life and thought… in the spheres of law, government economics, business education, arts and communication, medicine psychology and science”
“All theories and practices of these spheres of life are only true right and realistic to the degree that they agree with the Bible”
(Religion Gone Bad” Mel White Page 252)

These ideas can not be eliminated by force or decree. Karl Marx pored scorn on the Blanquists in the 19th century when he wrote

“In order to prove that they are the most radical of all they abolish God by decree as was done in 1793”
“-persecution is the best means of of promoting undesirable convictions”
Marx, K. and F. Engels “On Religion.” Foreign Languages Publishing House Moscow 1957(page142)

But neither should these irrational ideas be treated as if they are the word of a God. All religions need to be critically scrutinised and subjected to analysis. Indeed subject to ridicule. No respect needs to be given to those fundamentalists of whatever hue who would issue death threats against those who mock or criticise their beliefs.

Perhaps the current crisis in the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland will now lead to a more open critical analysis by commentators of the reactionary role played by all churches in Ireland. The outbreak of news programmes discussing the Popes letter to the Irish Roman Catholic Church shows a growing questioning. And about time. Yet in these programmes and discussions little emphasis is placed on who had the ultimate responsibility for covering up the rape of children. It was not the Irish Bishops who were merely carrying out the instructions of Rome. Their grave errors of judgment were and are also Ratzinger’s. No the person responsible was and is Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XV1. His letter failed to address the real issues nor was there any sign that he recognised what is happening. He blamed growing secularisation, even Vatican 2 for the current scandals and has since talked about
“unforgiving of the sin but merciful to the person”
“he who is with out sin to cast the first stone”

His approach contrast with that of Pope Pius V who in 1568 in a Papal Order “Horrendum” ordered that priests who abused children were to be stripped of the priesthood, deprived of all income and privileges and handed over to the civil authorities. That’s a far cry from paying them off and or moving them around from parish to parish and failing to report child rape to the civil authorities as was done under Ratzinger’s watch..

Sectarianism is not some strange creation that arose within the body politic. It has been nurtured fed and watered by successive leaders of political and religious sects in pursuit of power and influence. It is no accident that after the failed 1798 rebellion by the Republican United Irishmen it was the British government that financed the establishment of the seminary at Maynooth to produce the kind of Catholic priest that would condemn Fenianism to the deepest holes in hell.

The institutional Roman Catholic Church has since its pact with the Roman Empire known which side its bread was buttered on. It is and always was a bastion of reaction. Regardless of the goodness or otherwise of its individual ministers, the institution has always been a friend and ally of the ruling classes. Reform or resignations at the top will not change it. It will still be the arrogant parasitic body it has always been. It is no friend of the Irish working class.

Gerry Ruddy

References and Sources.

The Independent Newspaper 15 March. “The Dark Side of the Pope”
The Independent Newspaper 19th March “Opinion and Debate”

Marx, K. and F. Engels “On Religion.” Foreign Languages Publishing House Moscow 1957
(Religion Gone Bad” Mel White

The Blanquist Party
The Blanquists were founded by Louis-Auguste Blanqui in the years following 1865. They were a socialist organization and were hostile towards both the church and the regular French army and one which, alongside the International, dominated the socialist political scene in Paris during the commune, making socialism appealing to those who did not approve of the Inernational. Their actions brought socialism to a larger group of people, strengthening and spreading the movement. A group of dedicated revolutionaries, even Karl Marx, who saw them as pretenders to the real socialist movement, respected them and their actions. Their founder was their most important and most visible figure. Blanqui had been imprisoned for over 33 years in various prisons for his actions against the government, and had been responsible for many of the demonstrations against the government immediately prior to the founding of the Commune.

On Religion-Karl Marx

“ The basis of irreligious criticism is: man makes religion, religion does not make man. In other words Religion is the self-consciousness and self-feeling of man who has either not yet won found himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man—state, society. This state and this society produce religion, a reversed world consciousness because they are a reversed world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d'honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn completion, and its universal ground for consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence because the human essence has no true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore mediately the fight against the other world of which religion is the spiritual aroma.

Religious distress is, at one and the same time, the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people.

The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusions about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.

The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of the vale of woe, the halo of which is religion.”

Marx, K.
“Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Introduction
Marx, K. and F. Engels “On Religion.” Foreign Languages Publishing House Moscow 1957(page42)
The Red Plough

Vol. 1-No-5

Monday 8th March 2010

E-mail newsletter

1) Editorial

2) A Normal State!

3) The economic case for a united Ireland

4) Policing In the Six Counties-70 years ago
5) From internet discussions

6) From The Media

a. From Newry to Helmand, the lessons are the same
b. INTO Slams Government Policies


Right across the British isles public services are under attack. The
Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) have called two days of strikes a cuts in redundancy pay.The Britsh Government has put a cap on redundancy and hope to save over £500 million. The union fears it is the beginning of both massive redundancies in the public service and also creeping privitisation of those same public services.

The walkout is the biggest show of industrial unrest in the civil service since 1987.Courts, ports, job and tax centres and emergency police call centres are being affected by the walkout. In the North of Ireland 2,000 civil servants are taking part in the strike. PCS says members could lose a third of their entitlement over cuts under the civil service compensation scheme.
Meanwhile in the South of Ireland Union leaders have rushed to defend the public services from continuing government attacks. Sheila Nunan, General Secretary Designate, INTO, accused government of turning its back on its own workers in a vain attempt to find a solution to the ills of the Irish economy. She claimed a campaign of vilification had fueled a “falsehood of an over-staffed, under-worked, well-paid, afraid to reform, unwilling to transform public service.”
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions are meeting to discuss an escalation of industrial action in the public sector aimed at trying to force the Government to reverse its decision to cut pay announced in the recent budget.
The first phase involved a work-to-rule. Now both IMPACT and the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation will propose that Phase Two includes a series of rolling work stoppages.The Frontline Alliance, which represents nurses, gardaí and other emergency personnel, said it would support whatever decision is taken on further action by Congress.
As part of their campaign against pay cuts, the Garda Representative Association has said gardaí will refuse to use their own personal mobile phones, cameras, laptops and other equipment for work.
The rising tide of militancy transcends nationalities. Capitalism is no respecter of frontiers when it comes to making profits and workers have a shared interest in resisting attacks on their living standards. The current crisis in capitalism has spawned a militancy in the workers. It should now be clear in the South that the issue of “social partnership” is now dead
The ICTU bureaucracy far from seeking agreements and a cosy relationship with the government needs to be pressurized from below. That pressure should be working towards the escalation of workers actions

Other actions by the armed republicans do not advance either the struggle for a united Ireland or the establishment of any kind of socialism on the island of Ireland. Matters around this are dealt with in the article “A Normal State!”
The Red Plough also republishes a document presented at the recent Sinn Fein sponsored conference in London by Michael Burke arguing, albeit briefly, the economic case for a united Ireland. It is a useful beginning and a recognition that mere sloganising about ending partition cuts no ice with the thousands of workers of unionist/nationalist traditions struggling to survive the current crisis of capitalism.

This edition also has an item of more than historical importance, a letter written in the 1940’s by Bob Armstrong a leading Irish Trotskyist. Then the IRA was almost totally apolitical, was sympathetic to Nazi Germany and believed that armed struggle alone could end partition. Armstrong’s brief letter cuts away all that and points the way forward for the working class and is still relevant today.

A Normal State!

"But Northern Ireland sees a terrorist incident, a bombing or a shooting, twice week, double the rate of a year ago. Someone is charged with terrorism every six days. Each time, local leaders are summoned to plead for calm. Each outrage is dismissed as the work of criminal dissidents and described as "a matter for the police". Nothing must disrupt the narrative of normalcy." (The Guardian (24/02/10)

It is now clear that while most Republicans are now advocating only democratic means for pursuing their goal of some form of united Ireland and the ending of British interference in Irish affairs, other republicans have totally committed themselves to advancing their ideals through armed struggle. The Minister of Justice in the Republic, Dermot Ahern has claimed that the Real IRA and Continuity IRA have successfully pooled their resources and that the threat posed by their co-operation is now as serious as that from any group during the height of the “Troubles.”

Incidents of violence have increased in recent days.

• A former Republican prisoner was shot dead in Derry by the Real IRA.

• In Mid February Republicans abandoned a mortar close to Keady police station in South Armagh.

• A 250lb car bomb exploded outside Newry courthouse on Monday 22nd of February 2010 the first anywhere in the North since Omagh in 1998.

• A suspected mortar was fired at a PSNI station in Craigavon at the end of February

• Violent disturbances took place in the Craigavon area between some nationalist youth and the PSNI

• An under-car bomb by Óglaigh na hÉireann, severely injured a police officer Peadar Heffron.

• The Real IRA in Derry shot dead one of its own members allegedly involved with a drugs' gang.

• The Real IRA were behind a pipe bomb attack on a British Army base in north Belfast.

• Bombs have been left near the homes of policemen and their relatives, and police stations have been fired on.

• For two weeks solid gangs of youths have met for “recreational” rioting at an interface on the Springfield road in Belfast.

• Rioting has taken place on the Stewartstown road In west Belfast

• In January a shopkeeper who sold “legal highs” was shot and wounded in Derry.

But the question must be asked what is normalcy? There have been long periods of relative peace on the isle of Ireland. Unfortunately none of those periods coincided with the past 100 years. Indeed it would be more true to say that the normalcy was always civil unrest, sectarian violence and armed resistance to British rule. Indeed those republicans now committed to the armed struggle can legitimately claim to be following in a tradition of resistance that ultimately forced Britian out of the 26 counties.

The Irish state pays homage to those who initiated that struggle and no doubt in 6 years on the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Uprising will salute the armed struggle of 100 years ago while heaping condemnation on those who today carry on that struggle. History and tradition run deep in the folk memory of both nationalists and unionists on the island. To put it bluntly Unionists have 1690, King Billy, Orange marches and sectarianism while nationalists have 1916, the IRA, the tricolour and the four green fields to dream about. Neither dreams nor marches fill stomachs or feed the kids.

Most states have major problems. Ireland/N. Ireland is not unique in the world. Unrest within states and between states occurs all over the world. Sectarian violence in a massive scale has occurred in recent years in India, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Israel /Palestine, and in parts of China.

Needless to say sectarianism is never in the interests of either the working classes or progressive movements. In the six counties some towns are bitterly divided. Lurgan has an almost visible line that divides catholic from protestant areas. Sectarian hatred has reached new heights in North Antrim and Coleraine where it is dangerous to be a young working class Catholic. Sectarian acts and attitudes breed sectarian responses and sectarianism is not confined to any one grouping.

West Belfast for example has a huge nationalist population with very few interfaces. It is comparatively easy to be non-sectarian there. It can be very different in areas like North Belfast or the Short Strand area of East Belfast where conditions are very different. Areas with many flash points are of course overwhelmingly working class and that is where sectarianism can build its strongest roots.

Let us face reality. Sectarianism is the norm in the North of Ireland. It permeates almost all strands of society. It is now institutionalised in the very structures of the administration based in Stormont. Claiming to be non –sectarian whilst doing nothing to undermine sectarianism has been the prerogative of the middle and upper classes. (Not that prevented the outpouring of sectarianism in the Golf clubs at the 19th hole!)

Also many republicans like to think of themselves as non- sectarian yet refuse to admit that republicans of all hues have in the past committed sectarian acts. It does not mean that Republicanism itself is sectarian but unless Republicans actively work to break down sectarian barriers then republicanism itself is tainted.

Those who make efforts to cross the sectarian divide and reach out to others of differing traditions are acting in the progressive traditions of Wolfe Tone Republicanism and are to be applauded no matter what tradition of republicanism they come from. People need to be judged on what they do not on what they were once. The jeering of republicans because they may once have been “stick” “provos” “erps” or “coca colas” is juvenile and indicative of a mind set stuck in the past.

Those republican committed to the political road (as opposed to the armed road) have made the correct choice. But the way ahead will not be easy. The power sharing administration at Stormont is still in process of bedding down and still has the support of the majority of people within the northern statelet. Persuading them of a different way will be immensely difficult and will be in the long term.

More urgently will be the task of reaching out now to the disaffected youth within the nationalist population who with no experience of the “troubles” may think it is a fine, noble and glorious thing to take up arms against the “British” presence. With rising unemployment, and decreased job opportunities for graduates the opportunity to channel that disaffect exists for those opposed to the status quo.

Northern Ireland is not nor ever will be a “normal” society. Consequently there will always be those who under the pressures of sectarianism and state oppression opt for the gun as the way forward. That is the wrong road. It is not only the road to prison, to death, to disillusionment and alienation, it is also the road to defeat.

It is imperative that the youth are channelled away from the dead end (in both the literal and figurative sense) of armed struggle and instead are directed towards the road of class struggle. Those republicans committed to that will have the full support of the Red Plough.

The economic case for a united Ireland

By Michael Burke, Socialist Economic Bulletin
12 February 2010
The case for a united Ireland should not rest solely on arguments for democracy and against injustice, important as those are. The fact is there is a strong economic case for ending Partition, and one which would benefit almost the entire population of the North, across all communities.
Legacy of colonialism
The whole of Ireland was a colony of Britain. Colonies are usually characterised by a model of development which is aimed at the easiest extraction of goods and raw materials to be used by the imperial centre. Yet, long before Partition in 1922, the area around Belfast and on the North-East coast much more closely resembled an industrial area of mainland Britain. Shipping, linen and, latterly, aircraft appeared to place Belfast on the same footing as the industrial centres of Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool with which it traded. It was wholly unlike most of the rest of Ireland, even the nearby counties in the North, which mainly rested on agriculture. Most of Ireland, it was often said, had been cleared of its people to make way for England’s cattle. As a result the majority of Ireland, the oldest capitalist colony was also an archetypal one. The relative privileges afforded the producers around Belfast formed the economic basis of the relative privileges granted to Protestants in the North. These have been cemented by sectarianism and finds its political expression in Unionism.
At the time of Partition, per capita levels of output and income in what became Northern Ireland were on a par with Britain as a whole. By contrast, output and income in what has since become the Republic of Ireland were a fraction of those in the North. Neither of those two points is true any longer. The Northern economy has sunk below that of Britain (which has itself been experiencing relative decline on a global basis). And the economy of the Republic has experienced an era of superior growth which has seen per capita incomes catch up and then surpass both the North and Britain as a whole. In the latest data, average (median) weekly earnings in the North were £357, in Britain they were £397 and in the South (after adjusting for both currency and price differentials) they were £532.

The global economy
The recent economic boom in India, some decades after Independence is testimony to the fact that independence is a necessary but insufficient condition for economic prosperity. A deepening integration with the global economy is also required. At the time of Ireland’s Partition, 98% of the South’s foreign trade was with Britain, chiefly the export of live cattle. The entirety of Irish official economic policy was for decades aimed at maintaining the dominance of the big farmers who served the British market. However, diversification was forced on Ireland, not least by Britain’s relative decline. A steady economic outperformance from the late 1960s onwards gave way to a genuine economic boom of the early 1990s as the Irish economy became properly integrated with the European and the global economy.
That path is road-blocked for the NI economy. It is not integrated into the global economy, and is becoming less so, as its traditional industrial strongholds fade away. Its ‘external sales’ amounted to just £12.5bn in 2008/09. Excluding sales to Britain, actual merchandise exports were just £5.9bn. By contrast, the Republic’s exports amounted to €86.8bn over the same period. Only 14% of those were to Britain, compared to 53% for NI. This contrast is even starker in relation to imports.
The government of the Republic is currently engaged in a savage attack on public sector pay and provisions, drawing envious admiration from George Osborne and David Cameron in Britain. The economic gains post-independence and the prosperity that accompanied them owe nothing to the progressive or far-sighted policies of successive governments; there have been none. Economic success, with a handful of exceptions has arisen from foreign multinationals taking advantage from a well-educated workforce located in a prime conduit for trade between the two major blocs of the US and EU.
The interests represented by Fianna Fail in particular have shifted from the large farmers to their property speculating and banking successors, and indices of wealth and social inequality are unchanged since Partition. In fact income inequality both North and South are above the EU average, and on a par with Britain. The maintenance of this status quo is the economic platform of almost all the main political parties, with the notable exception of Sinn Féin. Representing a similar social base, the economic policies of Fianna Fail and the DUP are virtually identical. The viciousness of their economic policy arises from material weakness, not strength. The campaign for cuts in public sector pay and welfare payments, and now a reduction in the minimum wage is led by representatives of the fast food chains, the shopkeepers and the bookmakers.
Both economies are also leading examples of the unequal treatment of women, not only in employment and the workplace but in all aspects of social life. But the North also remains a bastion of sectarian discrimination. One of the many gains of the Good Friday Agreement was the establishment of the Equality Commission of NI. It has monitoring powers over all enterprises with more than 10 employees. The changing political climate that led to the establishment of the Commission has seen the rapid erosion of large areas of sectarian discrimination in public sector employment. Before the current economic crisis, a rising population and falling unemployment produced a situation where employment growth amongst Catholics outstripped that of Protestants. Nothing like that success has been registered in the private sector. However, the battle for equality is far from over. A Catholic is still more than twice as likely to be unemployed. Discrimination in other areas, such as housing, remains endemic.
These inequalities are part of the DNA of both societies. It is no accident that those struggling against those inequalities are confronted with the idea of transforming the political basis of both states North and South, as well as the social relations within them. That transformation would benefit the overwhelming bulk of the population, North and South.

Policing In the Six Counties-70 years ago.

Crumlin Road Jail

There are approximately 600 prisoners in Crumlin Road jail about 300 of whom are serving sentences – probably two-thirds of these sentenced prisoners being IRA men. The remaining 300 are interned, and there are more than 200 other internees in Derry Jail. It is estimated that tens of thousands have been detained since the war. All internments are made under a clause in the Special Powers Act stating that such and such a person has given grounds for reasonable suspicion that he or she has acted or is about to act in a manner prejudicial to the peace. This is the Stormont equivalent of the Japanese “dangerous thoughts” Act.
Not a few of the internees assert that they have never belonged to a political organisation in their lives.

It was during my sojourn in Crumlin that the Chief of Staff of the IRA and three of his associates staged their spectacular get-away from the most heavily guarded prison in the British Isles. The drama of this escape was heightened by a black-type RUC advertisement, in the press offering £3,000 reward to anyone supplying information leading to the arrest of any one of these men. The greatest man-hunt in Ulster history is under way. The relentless, unending war between the RUC and the IRA has provided all the highlights in Ulster politics during the past twenty years. The fearlessness of martyred republicans such as Tom Williams has almost legendary fame. The IRA is almost 100 percent proletarian in composition, its great reservoir of strength being the Belfast Falls Road area. The more petit-bourgeois Eire section is but a feeble reflection of the Northern movement. Yet it advocates no social policy whatsoever, for it considers itself to be not in any sense a political party, but purely and simply an army. Its sole aim is to expel foreign imperialism from Ireland. In 1939 it declared war on Britain. When the world war began it welcomed Germany as an ally in the common struggle.

The prevailing cult of national-socialist ideology within the IRA would vanish like a cloud of smoke at the first signs of a British-German concord. All nations and movements are judged in accordance with their attitude to Britain. Yet for all that not a single British soldier has suffered injury at the hands of the IRA since the war began. The reason is clear enough. Despite its pretentious claims the IRA, being incapable of invoking an appeal outside the nationalist areas, cannot rise beyond small-scale skirmishing tactics. To deal with this the RUC, one of the most highly trained police forces in the world, is adequate. Even if, by a miracle, it succeeded in overcoming its immediate enemy, it is madness to believe that the IRA could defeat the British army, and most certainly Britain would not passively surrender the right to garrison Ireland.

To refute this argument republicans cite the successful outcome for the South of the Black-and-Tan war. But this struggle succeeded only because the revolutionary ferment in the British working class prevented the Lloyd George Government from embarking upon a large-scale regular war against Ireland. The great Russian revolution had kindled a flaming love of liberty throughout the world, and not least in Britain. Without this the heroism of the Irish people in 1921 would have proved unavailing. Only the revolutionary movement of the British and Irish working class can finally free Ireland from imperialist rule. But the IRA as yet cannot understand this. Nor is this accidental. For the amazing virility of a historically outmoded form of struggle is due, not mainly to the dead weight of tradition, but to the shameless collaboration with imperialism of parties masquerading as socialist, the Stalinists and the labourites, who compromise working class methods at every step and engender a contempt for socialism.

Discriminated against at every step, the Catholic working class youth are forced into the struggle. More than a third of the Six-County population belong to the so-called “minority”. The Stormont Government sits on a powder magazine. But so long as it sits tight the weight of the RUC is adequate: and kept under control the IRA has great uses. For the Protestant workers, conscious though they be of their membership of the downtrodden class in the general capitalist set-up, they are keenly aware of their privileged position. They fear, and with good foundation, that a victory of the IRA would place them in the position of a persecuted minority. For, no matter how much the IRA declaims against sectarianism, the fact is that, basing itself on the degenerate capitalist system, it could not prevent the unleashing of anti-Protestant pogroms at the signs of mass unemployment.

Why the Trotskyists Are Under Fire
It is axiomatic to Marxists that the weaker a government’s mass basis, the stronger its apparatus of repression must be. The RUC is the real government of Northern Ireland and Dr Moffat, reputed by some to be the most astute police chief in Europe, occupies the unique position, outside the purely fascist countries and the USSR, of being better known, at least in the nationalist areas than the cabinet ministers. It is the tremendous material and legal powers enjoyed by the Ulster police that enables them to move with such swiftness and arrogance against legal working class parties.
Yet the Trotskyist movement has not been singled out for attack, on account of its smallness, but because its’ programme is feared. A move threatening to disturb the caste upon which the Stormont regime easily balances, is to be feared above everything else. The Stormont regime fears not an alliance between IRA and the Trotskyists, but the passing over of the glorious Falls Road proletariat from IRA utopianism to a revolutionary socialist program.
For that we will not require to pander to the illusions of the IRA or any other organisation which stands apart from and against the programme of the revolutionary working class. We need no catspaws. We turn to the dauntless working-class youth of the Falls Road and strive to win them, not by nursing outworn prejudices but by proclaiming the power of proletarian methods of struggle you and your class. The Irish section of Workers’ International League demands:
1. That the internees be released or brought to trial.
2. The repeal of the Special Powers Acts.
3. A united front of all working class organisations against the arbitrary rule of the police.

The above is part of a letter from Bob Armstrong who was detained without charge or trial for 18 days by the RUC and then released in the early 1940s.Bob was a member of the Workers International League and his letter reveals the conditions under the Stormont Regime in Northern Ireland and are a picture of the worst type of police dictatorship known only in the most backward countries of Europe at that time. His letter also points out the way forward for Marxists and socialist republicans by rejecting the weapons of militarism and embracing the struggles of the workers.



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From The Media

From Newry to Helmand, the lessons are the same

Had Monday's car bomb exploded in London it would have been inflated into a terrorist atrocity, fuel for the Afghan war

An explosion, then ¬silence. Next come the shouts and the sirens. It is another bomb. Oh God, people cry, is ¬anyone dead? On this occasion, no . But Northern Ireland sees a terrorist incident, a bombing or a shooting, twice week, double the rate of a year ago. Someone is charged with terrorism every six days. Each time, local leaders are summoned to plead for calm. Each outrage is dismissed as the work of criminal dissidents and described as "a matter for the police". Nothing must disrupt the narrative of normalcy.
Terrorism in Northern Ireland is nowadays hardly reported because it has rightly been redefined as a crime. The terrorist must be denied the oxygen of publicity. And it works. If Monday's court-house bombing in Newry had been perpetrated on a public building in London there would have been pandemonium. Security chiefs would have been summoned. Doors would have been kicked down in immigrant suburbs and "suspects" arrested.

Gordon Brown would have dived for his Cobra bunker, declaring "the nation is under threat" and the bomb was proof of the necessity of the Afghan war. That was how Washington reacted yesterday to news of a (failed) plot to put a bomb in the New York subway . It was nothing as commonplace as a crime but, said a spokesman, "an assault on our nation … a threat to our homeland security".
The war in Afghanistan has progressed since 2006, when the defence secretary, John Reid, and his local commander, now the head of the army, General Sir David Richards, confidently told the world that driving the Taliban out of southern Afghanistan would be easy. After ridiculing intelligence and advice – not least the Russians' experience of trying to do likewise – Nato troops found the Pashtun people reacted badly to being invaded, shot and blitzed. They found insurgents fought back ferociously. It made no difference how many schools and roads were built. It made no difference how often Nato apologised for bombing the wrong targets. The Kabul regime's hold on Afghanistan continued to slide and does so to this day.

This week the prolonged campaign to reassert central authority in the small town of Marjah in Helmand is drawing to a close. By adopting the surge tactic of blanketing an area with soldiers, the occupying power has forced the enemy into retreat. As in Falluja in 2004 , American troops are adept at "making a wilderness and calling it peace". But they must now contemplate the barely conceivable prospect of doing likewise in Afghanistan's second city of Kandahar. Fighting the Taliban there will make the slaughter of 60 Afghan civilians in the past week seem mild.

Despite publicity from embedded journalists about the brave Afghan army, there is no comfort to be had from any analyst that Afghan troops and police can ever hold southern Afghanistan against the Taliban's ruthless guerrillas. The reliance of the British government (and the Tories) on "training the Afghan army" as a precondition for a British withdrawal is not a strategy. It is a figleaf concealing the absence of a strategy. The weekend air strike against "escaping Taliban" – massacring some 27 civilians 150 miles from Marjah – shows how far attrition has degraded Nato discipline and left various special forces operating as private warlords.
The policy of trying to kill Taliban to the negotiating table is as barren as that of winning over peasants by rocketing their homes and destroying their poppy crops. One day some sort of treaty will have to be reached with various Taliban leaders, some of whom had by 2001 qualified as "moderates" and were hostile to al-Qaida. Yet it is Nato policy to assassinate these leaders, mostly by much-vaunted drones, replacing older negotiators likely to be more amenable to peace with younger successors furious for revenge. Yet again, policy is counter-productive. An undiminished concomitant of war down the ages is stupidity.
This week the British government received an answer to its oft-pleaded question, how can it possibly withdraw? The Dutch have shown that it is done quite simply by announcing a withdrawal, as most Nato countries have "withdrawn" de facto by staying in Kabul and refusing to fight in a conflict they feel cannot be won. There are clear limits to how long a democracy will subscribe to wars far from home where only the vaguest national interest is at stake.
The attempt of Gordon Brown, David Miliband and David Cameron to link the battle in Helmand, with safety on British streets is no longer just implausible, it is surreal. Their declared objective is to reduce the risk of Islamist attacks by stamping out distant "terrorist sponsors" and "training camps". Other motives – maintaining Nato unity, regional stabilisation and confronting jihadism – are mentioned but are subsidiary. War can only be about security.
Yet the paucity of domestic terrorist incidents suggests that this objective of "homeland security" is effectively achieved, in Britain and the US. There is no evidence that foreign wars have played any part in this. Indeed if motives cited by convicted terrorists are any guide, the war is counter-productive. With public spending tight, reallocating resources from war to domestic counter-terrorism must be value for money. But who has the courage to say or do it?

Northern Ireland has learned to live with low-level terrorism on a scale greater than anything being experienced from Islamists in mainland Britain. This violence will continue as long as sectarian segregation exists in housing and schools, subsidised by the British taxpayer. It will continue as long as Northern Ireland remains a living monument to Europe's long history of religious intolerance. But a sort of equilibrium has been realised. "War" is no longer being constantly declared on "the men of violence", conferring on them the mantle of military heroism. Terrorism loses its potency when relegated to the status of a crime.
Terrorism poses no threat to Britain's national security. Bombs explode but they do not undermine the state. ¬Terrorism rather reflects the community's handling of risk. Ever since 9/11, the Labour government's exploitation of the politics of fear has overwhelmed the public's ability to assess risk. This in turn has inconvenienced many, frightened some and sent hundreds of soldiers to an unnecessary death. It has shown that the greatest threat to modern democracy remains what it has always been – a vulnerability to the ¬populism of warmongering.
THE GUARDIAN 24 FEBRUARY 2010 Simon Jenkins

INTO Slams Government Policies

Sheila Nunan, General Secretary Designate, INTO, accused government of turning its back on its own workers in a vain attempt to find a solution to the ills of the Irish economy. She said a campaign of vilification had fueled a falsehood of an over-staffed, under-worked, well-paid, afraid to reform, unwilling to transform public service.
"Many people are prepared to believe this tissue of lies," said Ms Nunan. "Desperate for economic recovery they find it easy to believe competitiveness will be restored, the economy rebooted and prosperity regained if only we had a reformed, transformed, modernised public service."
Ms Nunan said far from being a brake on economic success Ireland's public services actually underpin our global competitiveness.
She said The Global Competitiveness Report 2009–2010 published by the World Economic Forum in Switzerland highlighted the competitive advantages and disadvantages of 133 countries worldwide.
"When it comes to Ireland, significant competitive advantages are the reliability of police services, the quality of primary, second and third level education and life expectancy due to the quality of our health services," said Ms Nunan. She contrasted this with Ireland's significant disadvantages outlined in the report including trust in politicians, the soundness of our banks and the lack of access to loans.
Ms Nunan said one of Ireland's biggest advantages is the quality of our education system. "In the world of education, the only disadvantage is inadequate education expenditure." "Former Intel CEO Craig Barrett is right," said Ms Nunan. "We need to invest more, not less in education." But she said she was not prepared to argue that there was no room for change, improvement or transformation particularly in an area such as education.
"Education," she said, "will be the engine of economic recovery." "If education is prioritised for investment, Ireland can get involved in a race to the top rather than the bottom”.
But she warned that cutting salaries, suppressing recruitment and promotions, threatening pensions would damage the morale of decent hardworking teachers and would not solve Ireland’s economic woes.
"Instead of ignoring its workers, government must enter into dialogue with the unions to find a real road to recovery,"

From Internet

A short film of a speech given by a US veteran of the war in Iraq.

The Red Plough

Vol. 1-No 4

Wednesday January 20th 2010

E-mail newsletter

1) Editorial

2) “ A Bourgeoisified Reactionary Parasitic Class”?

3) For the Irish Revolution-1939

4) Allegations

5) Public sector strikes

6) From internet discussions

7) From The Media
AFri Calls for Suspension of Corrib Gas Project and Launches Petition

This edition contains two articles that we believe are important. The first, “ A Bourgeoisified Reactionary Parasitic Class”? is up to date and deals with the ideas of a 3rd world Maoist group. While not many Irish people may have heard of this group and they may be small and of no great significance the real issue is the battle of ideas. Achieving the correct revolutionary approach is important and it is good to see real debate slowly beginning to take place among Irish Republicans about the correct way forward. But any approach that advocates the workers must wait deserves to be opposed
The second article, For the Irish Revolution-1939 is a reprint from 1939 and while it refers to events long ago its relevance today is still fresh in the light of the stepping up of armed actions by Irish republicans.
The third article “Public sector strikes” highlights the need a fighting socialist leadership committed to mass action to fightback against the cuts. No body should be under any illusions that such cuts will not be applied both north and south. All who consider themselves on the left need to throw themselves wholeheartedly into the defence of jobs and conditions.
Maoist-Third Worldist Stand-In Line on Ireland
November 7, 2008

Unfortunately the comrade failed to indicate his/her position on the article itself and the ideological position it took. He did however, assert that
“Although Maoism is not a bona fide blue print for a first world Revolution a vast amount can be learnt from it and the pieces which suit our own struggle can be incorporated in our own strategy and vision for the future.”

This followed on from the New Year message of the leadership of Irish Republican Socialist Movement, which included the following sentence,

‘As Mao Zedong once pointed out, "politics is war without bloodshed," and it is within this context that the Republican Socialist Movement carries forward the struggle.’

Perhaps it is time to look at the implications of applying Maoism to the Irish situation particularly as contained within the Maoist third World document.

After a fairly brief resume of previous Irish history the document, comparing the original UVF to the Russian “Black Hundreds” and comparing them to fascists, quite correctly rejects attempts to portray the national struggle as one revolving around “opposing cultural traditions”,
and rejects the concept of the unionist veto.
Unfortunately it then panders to reactionary and sectarian nationalism by advocating the removal of loyalists to Britain.

“Were we in power, our gift to the loyalists of Ireland who refuse to take their place as members of the Irish nation, free and undivided, would be a one-way ticket back to Britain.”

Remember this from a political tendency that has played little or no part in Irish politics for over 30 years. It certainly seems the further away from a situation then the easier it is to pontificate and take the “hard” position. This certainly goes against the traditional approach of republicanism that sought to embrace all the traditions on the island. It is nearly forty years since this writer last heard anyone advocating this solution. It was wrong then. It is wrong now. It is sectarian, it is anti republican, and it does no service to those struggling for socialism. It has no place in republican socialism.

As if that was not bad enough the document then questions whether Ireland is indeed an oppressed nation because, in its view, the majority of its people have endorsed British rule and repression has declined and all but disappeared from the streets. Try telling that to those republicans and nationalists who have rejected the pacification process and who still endure harassment from the British forces! Look at the figures below
Table 1:
Number of persons stopped and searched under Terrorism Act 2000 TACT S44

1 Apr to 30 Jun 2008 1,341
1 Jul to 30 Sept 2008 1,657
1 Oct to 31 Dec 2008 2,524
1 Jan to 31 Mar 2009 4,026
1 Apr to 30 Jun 2009 3,568
1 Jul to 30 Sept 2009 10,265
2009 (1 Jan to 30 Sept) 17,859
Power to stop and search: Number of person and vehicle searches under section 44 of the Terrorism Act (1)
Year Number of persons stopped and searched Number of vehicles stopped and searched
2005 204 156
2006 948 791
2007 2,167 1,801

Jan–Mar 1,400 1,127
Apr–Jun 1,341 1,123
Jul–Sept 1,657 1,689
Oct–Dec 2,524 2,077
2008 TOTAL 6,922 6,016

These figures combined with newspapers reports that
“MI5: More terrorist plots from Irish Republicans than Islamic extremists” (Editorial THE GUARDIAN 31 December 2009)
indicate clearly that there is still resistance to the pacification process.
While one can clearly disagree with the tactic of armed force at this point in time it is a clear indication that the peace process has not solved the Irish question. Instability still exists and the British institution at Stormont has not yet stabilized the Northern state.

But of course the Maoist Third Worlders don’t believe that the Irish working class has a vested interest in overthrowing capitalism. On the contrary we
“bear the imprint of First World parasitism”

They reject
“ any claims that Ireland is a nation exploited by monopoly capital and any attempts to calculate poverty and exploitation there on the basis of Irish GDP figures taken in isolation from the rest of the world”

Such an analysis owes more to sociology than to socialism. Of course Ireland is a relatively rich country compared to many counties. We don’t have the absolute poverty that exists throughout the world. But it is in our material interests that we try to change our conditions for capitalism is not only exploiting workers in Ireland but it is also in danger of destroying the world we live. Do the Maoists only want us to show solidarity with 3rd world struggles and ignore the continuing exploitation of our class and the natural resources within the island? Are we to wave our banners in support of the struggles in Nepal while ignoring our own problems. Are we to forget the “bourgeoisified” “parasitic” workers on the picket line here in Ireland while lauding the struggling peasants in foreign fields?

That position reminds me of the Irish Socialist Workers Party who opposed the Imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while condemning those who opposed Imperialism in Ireland.

Any revolutionary worth his/her salt knows that the best form of internationalism is the making of revolution with our own countries. Irish republicanism has a proud tradition of internationalism. Wolfe Tone adopted the most revolutionary creed in his day when he became a republican in the tradition of the American and French revolutions. Today the most advanced creed is Marxism but not that form of Marxism pushed by 3rd world Maoists.

They also claim that there is no class in Ireland with a material interest in fighting imperialism in the third world. In deed the
“The Irish working class is a bourgeoisified reactionary parasitic class”

However that position is contradicted by claims that
“Irish Republicans and communists alike have correctly recognised the Irish national bourgeoisie as an ally of the proletariat in the anti-imperialist struggle”

So is there a basis in Ireland for an anti -imperialist struggle or not in Ireland? And if all classes have become integrated into becoming parasitic who is to lead that struggle assuming it exists?

It takes some strange thinking for so called Marxists to call on the Irish working class to dismiss their own material interests in fighting Imperialism
“on the basis of its own class interest, an impossible and reactionary piety,”

Instead we must appeal to the
“proletarian memory” of the Irish people and “join the Maoist third world movement”

Forget materialism- think memory, better still folk memory What leadership!

I’d suggest this is a retreat from Marxism. Maybe next we will be encouraged by the Maoists to be looking deep into our souls to see what is in the best interests of the workers. Yes we can all be like De Valera who looked into his own soul to see what the Irish people needed.

Now it is true that the traditional communist Parties have always adhered to this line and adopted (like the Maoist third worlders) a stagiest approach to the national and class questions. In other words the primary task of the proletariat and communist movement is the removal of the “British occupiers”

However the communist movement in Ireland broke this down even further insisting that civil rights was the first stage and that demands for the solving of the national question be stilled.

It is also true that within republicanism there has always been a section that believed in handing the leadership of the struggle to bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie elements. This approach has led to the infamous stance of De Valera that “Labour must wait” and to the Pan nationalist front of Provisional Sinn Fein and the SDLP that led to the re-establishment of the Stormont regime and the institutionalization of sectarianism within the very fundaments of the regime.

Inevitably, regardless of their intentions, the adherents of the stagiest approach whether it was De Valera, Michael Collins, Sean Mc Bride, Tomas Mc Giolla, Ruari O’ Bradaigh, or Gerry Adams, have all led their movements into blind alleys far removed from their original intentions.
Ireland is still partitioned, Britain still controls directly the six northeasterly counties, republicans are divided, socialists without serious influence and sectarianism a major influence on the working classes in the six counties.

Those who see the national bourgeoisie as allies in the struggle for liberation are wrong. They have no economic interests in ending British rule.

However there has always been a separate strand within Republicanism that has taken a different approach. It has been the approach of the IRSP from its foundation. It was also the stance of James Connolly Ireland’s leading Marxist. It was Seamus Costello’s approach and it was the stance of Ta Power and Gino Gallagher. There is no need to change that stance. The class and national questions are interconnected and cannot be separated.

Those who advocate the stages approach, simply go down the same road that has lead to disaster for the working classes in numerous countries. To make strategic alliances with the class enemy is to betray the revolutionary struggle of the working class.

Gerry Ruddy

The rash of allegations around property developers, toy boys, sexual abuse and corruption in local Government in the north is not before time. The cover up over abuse has been going on for over thirty years within the PIRA. It is no defence nowadays to say or argue that things were done different then. No organisation is immune to members who may be corrupt but the least one would expect is that there is a clear policy to expose and expel those involved in abuse. Perhaps the leader of Provisional Sinn Fein having failed to ensure his brother was in no position to abuse any else and having being the chief of an organisation that simply moved known child abusers around the country should follow the examples of Catholic bishops in the south and resign. Time to go.

For the Irish Revolution-1939

The attitude of the Marxist to acts of terrorism is tolerably well known, for Marxists have been at pains to carefully distinguish between terrorism as a weapon in the hands of a few conspirators, and terrorism, wielded as a weapon of coercion by a revolutionary class against the sabotage and counter-revolution of the dispossessed capitalist remnants.
This opposition to individual terrorism is not of course, based upon any “moral” distaste but rather upon the effectiveness of terrorism as a political weapon. In other words the Marxist weapon of criticism is directed against terrorism as a criticism of weapons.
Thus, the recent campaign of bombings which the Irish Republican Army has directed against the English ruling class must be examined as to their effectiveness in obtaining the ends desired, and viewed in this light the whole campaign can only be sharply condemned as an adventurous and futile escapade which will – like all similar terrorism – ultimately defeat its own ends.
Nevertheless, the struggle which the Irish people has waged for over two hundred years against the tyranny of English dominion must be supported with the utmost vigour by every class conscious worker in this country. Because of this we must address ourselves to the IRA as sympathisers and protagonists in the struggle for Irish liberation.
To the IRA we say:Your terrorist methods are a reflection of the middle class methods of dealing with fundamental problems.
Ireland is reduced to a state of impoverishment that is without parallel in the history of Western Europe. Preyed upon by English capitalists and their Irish lackeys, sucked dry by absentee English landlords, cruelly dominated by the mailed fist of English imperialism, divided and partitioned by English diplomacy – and Irish treachery – with a far greater number of Irishmen scattered abroad than in Ireland itself, poverty stricken, degraded, exploited, divided and repressed, the ruination of Ireland can only be attributed to the avarice and greed of the capitalist class of England and Ireland.
Against the armed might of imperialist Britain you now pit your gallant band of gunmen, the awesome power of the British Government you propose to demolish with your jam-jar bombs and dynamite explosions.
Your whole campaign is redolent of childishness and futility, revealing a complete lack of understanding of the true issues.
A few weeks back, you proclaimed yourselves the Government of Ireland. You blissfully ignored the presence of De Valera, of the entire State apparatus of the Irish capitalist class which, backed up by the English landlords, has decreed the death penalty upon your members. Declaring a state of “armed neutrality” to De Valera – who, by the way, is not neutral – you transfer the war to English territory and proceed to blast the English bourgeoisie into recognition of your aims.
You then succeed in blowing up certain pre-selected property of the English capitalists, meanwhile carefully and with middle class discretion, pointing out that you do not direct your bombs against human life but only against capitalist property. As this property is invariably insured against all possible damage, as the bourgeois gentlemen who own it are invariably tucked up in bed miles away, as the sanctity of human life does not extend to some poor devil of an English worker who is, as usual, the only one who gets blown up, as the terrorist is, if caught, imprisoned for a lengthy term, as finally all this is immediately condemned by the British worker – who has after all a perfectly natural antipathy to being blown sky high – you will see that all your efforts have resulted in a series of minor inconveniences for your enemies, the English bosses, and in alienating the otherwise sympathetic sentiments of your friends, the British workers.
Thus terrorism, which set out to unite Ireland, succeeds in uniting England – against Ireland. The boss class can now play on the anti-terrorist sentiments of the workers in this country and use them as a pretext for encouraging further the repressions of the De Valera Government in Ireland against the IRA
You seem to imagine that the British Government will be scared into granting your demands. Do not deceive yourselves. The British Government is itself the most expert terrorist the world has seen. There is hardly a subject race on the face of the earth, which has not at some time, or other felt the lash of British imperialism, and Ireland has suffered with the rest. The cause of Irish liberation is inextricably bound up with the revolutionary movements of ALL colonial peoples, is truly defended only by the revolutionary MASS movements of the working class in this and other countries.

Is it not obvious to all but the most purblind of patriots, that the present state of Ireland is due in its entirety to the capitalist system?
Do you then, endeavour to rid the world of this iniquity by a bomb explosion?
Ireland occupies the position of being a “back door” to Britain. In the event of a war the rulers of Ireland are in a valuable strategic position; as the last war showed, the Easter rising of 1916 was the utilisation of that position. It was more than that however; it was the prologue to the mighty Russian Revolution.
The British imperialists learn very rapidly; the Irish Republicans would do well to imitate them in this. Realising the importance of Ireland, the British are determined to retain their hold on the country, and accordingly with their accustomed craftiness have partitioned the country into two separate States, they deliberately foster the bitter religious feud which paralyzes the workers in Ulster, they alone of all the countries in the world, permit the sale of the infamous alcohol, “Red Biddy,” among the working population of Northern Ireland, thereby hoping to dope the minds of the working class with religion and befuddle their brains with booze.
You of the IRA are plentifully supplied with money. You have an organisation, which must cost hundreds of pounds per week to maintain, you have a large staff of professional officers and gunmen.
Let us assume that you get your way. For a moment let us assume that you actually take over the Government of Ireland.
Could you solve any of the problems which now inflict the working class of Ireland, could you alleviate a tithe of the appalling distress which eats at the Irish nation, could you produce some plan which will energise agrarian productivity, some bold scheme to re-organise Irish industry, can you tell us how, even if you can do all this, you propose to compete on the world market with the great, long-established imperialisms of Britain and France or the financial oligarchy of the USA?
In a word can you separate the question of Irish independence from the life and death struggle of the working class against capitalism? If you are honest and sincere in your desire for Irish freedom – and such qualities are beyond doubt to be found in the rank and file of the IRA – how can you avoid these questions? And how can you answer them? Can you hope to solve them by killing English workers and endangering the safety of English households? Can the Irish workers be won away from the established Government by a mere paper proclamation, the very signatories of which are outlawed by that same Government?
The answers to these questions will be obvious to all Irish workers: terrorist activity can never replace the mass action of the workers and peasants.
Accordingly it is the duty of all the rank and filers of the IRA to fight a political battle against the rulers of their country and to this end the money which their organisation possesses must be used in the establishment of a powerful printing press. The misery of the Irish toiler calls for instant redress, the curse of religious strife must be denounced, and against the repressions of the Government the workers and small farmers must be mobilised under the banner of the Irish Revolution.
This way lies the path of the Irish people, for capitalism can offer no future to the struggling masses. Only Socialism, only the conquest of power by the revolutionary masses can smash down the walls of hated Partition, can unite the Irish nation.
Ireland must be represented within the Fourth International by a virile and energetic section of revolutionary fighters. Ireland can achieve her emancipation only by means of the Revolution and it is to this end that the workers in the IRA can and must devote their energy.
The battle for the Irish Republic can only be fought on Irish soil for it is there that the crimes of capitalism are perpetrated; the fight of the Irish` workers can only be linked with the similar struggles of the oppressed peoples of the world through the Fourth International, the masses of the Irish workers and farmers can only be allied on a common programme which provides for their common liberation from the shackles of English – and Irish – capitalism.
Workers’ International News, April 1939From Workers’ International News, Vol.2 No.4, April 1939, pp.3-4.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETO

Public sector strikes begin… ICTU needs a clear strategy

The trade union campaign against the wage cuts announced in Lenihan’s December budget will begin to escalate over the next few weeks as different groups of workers across the public sector take action in what is being portrayed as an ongoing campaign of selective action. Today 20th January, the air traffic controllers are coming out, which will have a dramatic and very public effect on air travel. It’s likely that the workers concerned in the various selective actions will receive strike fund support in many cases and as such the campaign could continue for a considerable time. But what is the underlying situation and what are the issues for the movement? The majority of workers will support the ongoing campaign, after all what choice do they have when the government are after taking €1,000s from each of them? The mood that developed in the run up to the November day of action an the November 24th strike was overwhelmingly in favour of a fighting campaign against the cuts. It’s likely that many of the trade union leaders; wedded as they are to the hopelessly outdated policy of social partnership, were forced to go further than they intended. They have been under enormous pressure from the workers on the one hand, while on the other side there has been a relentless campaign of lies and a blatant attempt to try and divide the private sector workers from their brothers and sisters, husbands, wives, friends, parents and children working in the public sector. Of course when the FF leaders talk about the private sector, they really mean the bosses. Private sector means capitalist class in the doublespeak in the Sunday Business Post and the rest of the bourgeois press.
The willingness of the trade union leaders to call off the December strike at the faintest sniff of some talks with the government indicates a number of things; firstly how far from reality the trade union leaders have drifted, but also how scared sections of them are about the militancy of the working class. For sure, it can be an easy life when everything’s going well, as appeared to be the case in the boom years. But now that has turned sharply into its opposite. It cannot be a coincidence that Peter McLoone General Secretary of IMPACT has chosen this moment to stand down – although he had been due to retire in a few months when he hits 60.

As the Irish Independent explains:

"A SENIOR union leader who saw social partnership go from boom to bust is set to retire.Peter McLoone will step down from his position as general secretary of the country's largest public sector union, Impact, this summer. Just before the Budget, he almost persuaded the Taoiseach to embrace a controversial plan to avoid a €1bn public sector pay cut. In his role as chairman of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions' Public Services Committee, he advocated that public servants get two weeks' unpaid leave rather than take a pay cut. The proposal was initially backed by Taoiseach Brian Cowen, but was dramatically rejected just days before the Budget. Mr. McLoone was also in the spotlight as chairman of the FAS board, which resigned following allegations of excessive spending at the employment agency.”
The union leader has been described as a "high priest" of social partnership over the last two decades.
He is still expected to play a role in the union movement's strategy following the collapse of the process before Christmas.”
As Fightback has pointed out however, it would take a sight more than a high priest to negotiate anything meaningful with a FF government that has more or less decided that they have nothing to lose. As we’ve also explained consistently over the past period; the only force that can defeat the plans drawn up by Lenihan and Cowen is the mass action of the working class. The coalition is in serious trouble and it’s obvious that many in the government have decided that they have no alternative but to take on the workers, after all why not be hung for a sheep as a goat? They know they will be slaughtered at the next election.

With that in mind how does a campaign of selective action stack up? The biggest risk in a trade union struggle is loss of momentum and disillusionment, selective action can be very effective, especially in organisations reliant on “just in time” production methods. It’s a bit different in the Public Sector although some groups of workers have a lot more industrial muscle than others, the Air traffic controllers being a case in point. The American Bourgeois went as far as locking them in irons and dragging them off the premises. Things aren’t at that point in Ireland at the moment, but the fact that the employers in the docks were willing to employ ex British Special Forces troops as security guards means that the stakes are high.

A small group of workers engaged in selective action needs to feel the support of the entire work force and that means all out action and regular meetings, rallies and above all a leadership that knows what its doing not only at branch and shop level, but crucially at a national level. Selective action has to be backed up by the threat of all out action. The bosses will be readying themselves to use whatever legal, political and social weapons they can to stop the strikes from succeeding.

There must be a clear call to workers in the private sector and a clear explanation of the reasons behind the actions. It’s obvious that the attack on the public sector is a precursor to an assault on the private sector. Many workers have already been forced to take cuts and to go on short time. Last summer sections of the Electrical Contractors Employers made it quite plain that they were after breaking apart the REA in the industry which would be a green light for wage cuts on a vast scale. The public sector trade unions represent a big obstacle to the bosses. If they can get away with defeating the public sector unions then other layers are much more exposed.

Crucial in all of this is leadership. This isn’t the time for High Priests of Social Partnership, their day is long gone. The Irish trade unions need a fighting socialist leadership committed to mass action to defeat all the cuts and the levies. The role of Marxism has to be to patiently explain the alternative. The trade union and Labour organisations will be transformed time and time again, there is a clear reason for that; there is no other choice open to them.

From Internet discussions.

“Personally I believe the world of militant armed force republicanism is so riddled with informers and agents that the only politically sensible thing that Inla should do is to get off the very dirty stage, and to do that they should decommission, time will then judge that they were correct not to listen to the fireside soldiers!! “
“Such a laugh, whatever the RSM do I'm sure they will do with dignity, we need class war in Ireland, militant republicanism has been defeated and indeed infiltrated to such an extent that they should all disband and decommission. Only from that point can the politics of class war be taken to a new level.”

“The class war has yet to begin to be fair, I believe inla should decommission, get out of the very infiltrated world of militant republicanism, radicalise and politicise it's youth and membership and take it from there, people need to have confidence in our politics and membership, when Patsy said "let the fight go on" he was speaking to his family in the context of the hunger striker but being a revolutionary republican he knew there was no parliamentary road to socialism, the leadership no doubt know and believe this too, it should not be confused with getting off the defunct militant republican stage which is rife with agents, we need to create the conditions in which to agitate pushing the oppressor capitalist system, we need class war, in my view despite what is termed decommissioning I believe the RSM will always be prepared for that. We do not need another pigeon holed Provo mark 4 type of armed struggle doomed to failure, become relevant to the working class and our politics will be the cutting edge

Above we reprint 3 comments from the Internet by a leading member of the IRSP. While we agree with the general gist of his/her comments we have concerns about the use of the word
If it means to decommission a mind-set of militarism then we applaud the sentiments. Far to often on the Internet fire side soldiers jump up and down in ecstasy at the use of armed force
If it means to stand down the INLA and encourage volunteers to become totally immersed in political class struggle then it is to be applauded.
The Red Plough agrees with the IRSP that the political road is the only road to travel at this time.
However many republicans take the term to mean the decommissioning of weapons. In previous armed campaigns republican volunteers dumped their weapons all over Ireland when the armed campaign came to an end. That is the only way for Republicans to decommission. There is no honour in allowing British forces to decommission republican weapons. Below we reprint two resolutions passed by the Ard-feis of the IRSP that still stand as party policy.


6. Ard-Fheis believes that this movement should not have any contact whatsoever with bodies such as the District Police Partnership Board, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, or the Independent Monitoring Commission. The IRSP declares its opposition to republicans ever taking seats on the Northern Ireland Policing Board. The IRSP declare the police force of the six counties to be irreformable, no matter what name, uniform, or emblems it uses. [Strabane; IRSCNA]
7. Ard-Fheis calls for no decommissioning from the Irish National Liberation Army or disbandment of the INLA no matter what pressures or inducements are offered from the British occupiers of our country and following on from the Northern Ireland Secretary of State's meeting with representatives of the Ulster Defence Association and the buying off of that group with £3 million it is our view that the Irish Republican Socialist Movement under no circumstances enter into any similar negotiations. [Kevin Lynch Cumann, North Derry; Derry City; Strabane; Dublin]