Friday, 14 December 2012

The Red Plough Vol. 3-11

The Red Plough

Vol. 3-No 11
 December 14th 2012

1“No overarching state conspiracy”

2/ Some thoughts on "Socialism 2012"

3/ Missing their sense of purpose-        

no overarching state conspiracy

When a British Prime Minister, David Cameron  uses words such as “shocking”  to refer to the activities of his own security forces then you know something is up. He was responding to the publication of a review of the papers accumulated from different investigations carried out by different agencies of the British state into the death of Pat Finucane.  Part of that report said there had been 

"a wilful and abject failure by successive Governments"

The de Silva report enumerated the following

  • Employees of  British state organisations played a key role in the murder of Pat Finucane.
  • There was a failure to properly investigate the murder, and a failure to arrest and interview key loyalist paramilitaries.
  • Senior  British Army Officers deliberately lied during investigations.
  • The Royal Ulster Constabulary seriously obstructed the investigation.
  • 85% of loyalist paramilitaries ‘intelligence’ originated from the British security forces.
  • There were extensive ‘leaks of police information to loyalist paramilitary organisations.
  • MI5 knew of the threats against Finucane’s life but failed to protect him.

Pat Finucane was a defence lawyer for mainly republicans accused of activities against the state in the North of Ireland. Finucane was shot dead while sitting at his family dinner on  a Sunday in 1989. His killers were all members of a West Belfast unit of the Ulster Defence Association, a loyalist para-military gang.

They were all then, or subsequently later, informers and agents for different sections of British security forces. They carried out the murder two weeks after a junior Tory minister claimed some defence lawyers were active in the IRA. After Finucane’s killing the gang subsequently targeted two other defence lawyers, Oliver Kelly and PJ Mc Grory. Despite knowledge of all three targets before hand the RUC did not warn any of these individuals. 

The British Prime Minister at that time was called Margaret Thatcher. While leader of the opposition her mentor and closest  advisor on security, Airy Neave was assassinated, by a unit of the INLA, in the car park of the House of Commons . After she became Prime Minister, key players in both the INLA and IRSP were subsequently assassinated by unknowns, but probably by UDA/ British intelligence agents. No one has ever been charged in relation to those killings.

Throughout the seventies and eighties it was well known in republican and journalist circles that British intelligence was using and manipulating loyalist gangs to attack republicans and catholics.

A British military intelligence file from 1973 estimated that between five and 15 per cent of soldiers in the Ulster Defence Regiment – a local infantry regiment of the British Army – were linked to loyalist paramilitaries.  The best single source of weapons, and only significant source of modern weapons for loyalist groups, has been the UDR. The British government knew then that more than 200 weapons had passed from the UDR to loyalist paramilitaries, and that these were being used to murder Catholic civilians. The RUC in the seventies referred to these killings as motiveless and denied that they were sectarian. Furthermore the brutal sectarian and sadistic murders of the “Shankill Butchers” took place when the British army had rings of steel around Belfast and yet the murders continued. Furthermore the same British Army refused to break the Loyalist lock out in 1974 which  lead to the fall of the then power sharing  Government in the north. Shades of the 1914 Curragh Mutiny!!
And yet the British establishment claims to be shocked by the revelations in the De Silva report.

They should not have been. Historically the British establishment have used murder gangs, shoot to kill policies, sectarian, religious and racist divisions, massacres, assassins, double agents, torture, rape and pillage to impose the will of the British Empire on over 1/3 of the world.   That is what the Empire was built upon and the flag of that Empire, the Union Jack, commonly referred to as the Butcher’s Apron in nationalist areas of the North is such a symbol of division. 

The conscious whipping up of the Protestant working class by the two main pro-unionist/capitalist parties through the distribution of over 40,000 leaflets targeted at the middle of the road Alliance Party has lead to an orgy of sectarian intimidation, violence, including petrol and pipe bomb attacks  on political opponents, rabble rousing and the appearance of a BNP  financial supporter addressing a mass rally of unionists in front of Belfast City Hall.

 At a time of deep recession and the pauperisation of huge swathes of working class areas it is tragic, but not surprising, to see the working class diverted by the issue of flags and turning their hatred inward instead of against the system that perpetuates poverty, exploitation and hatred.

The full responsibility for that rests clearly with the British establishment. Their actions throughout the conflict in Ireland  show that unlike the public image they put out abroad as neutrals, holding the line between two warring factions they are instead the instigators: instigators of murder, and instigators of sectarian conflict.

As part of the Weston Park Agreement which led to power sharing in the North the British agreed to five Public Enquiries. Four were held but no agreement could be reached on the Finucane issue because it went to the heart of the British establishment.

However under constant pressure from both MI5  and the Ministry of Defence several British Governments crumbled, failed to establish a Public Enquiry and eventually Cameron set up a review of the papers connected to the Finucane killing .The review was subsequently carried out by Sir Desmond de Silva, QC. This was against the wishes of the Finucane family, Northern Nationalists and Republicans and the Irish Government.  But of course those wishes were ignored.

Moreover during that review only seven people were interviewed out of a possible total of thousands.  Documents were re-dacted and  permission had to be sought and explained to MI5,  why documents were being reviewed. It is no wonder the Finucane family have called the review 
“a sham.... a whitewash..... A confidence trick”

However despite this there were some telling revelations within the report.  
The Forces Research Unit, a shadowy undercover unit,  had started to encourage  the same UDA gang to assassinate Provisional Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams. This was a number of years prior to the murder of Pat Finucane and  at a time, when a section of the Provisional  movement, was seriously considering running down the IRA(P) armed campaign.

 As a first step a move was made to stand for elections in the South and take their Dail seats if elected.  This move agreed at an Ard-Feis led to a walk out and the establishment of Republican Sinn Fein under the leadership of traditionalists such as veteran republican, Ruairi o’Bradaigh.

Walking away from the provisionals-O'Bradaigh
 A previous attempt by the UDA to kill Adams had only wounded him. Now the key British agent inside the UDA, Brian Nelson revealed that the UDA wanted to have another go by planting a limpet type bomb on the roof of Adams heavily fortified car- the only part not reinforced.

However British Intelligence had during the 1981 Hunger strikes established a direct line of communications with the Adams faction within Provisional Sinn Fein.  They immediately took steps to prevent another attempt on Adams life based on the fact that 

“--the assassination of Adams, had it gone ahead would have been counter-productive, particularly given the delicate balance of power within Sinn Fein
( from British Agents Journal - Irish News  Page 10  13/12/12)

So it is clear not only that there was long term collusion between the British forces and loyalist murder gangs but that the British were also manipulating the situation inside the provisional movement to suit their own purposes.  The head of the so called “nutting squad”(which deal with so called informers) inside the Provisional IRA  was a British agent.  A key figure at the heart of Sinn Fein’s policy making was another British agent. So by the end of the 1980’s not only was it British policy to arm, direct and control the activities of the loyalist murder gangs but they were also at the strategic heart of the Provos  manipulating, directing controlling  and eliminating those who posed serious threats to their interests.

No British review of the events in the North of Ireland will ever find that murder was condoned from the very top of the establishment. The politicians hands must be clean. So no evidence will  be found that politicians sanctioned murder. 

 So it is now clear that much of the violence that place in the north between 1970 and 1998 was micro managed by the British establishment. It also clearly establishes that the strategy of armed struggle in Ireland is doomed to repeated failures because it can be so easily manipulated.

The only way forward for the working classes in Ireland is through class struggle. At a time of the longest recession in recent history with mass unemployment, cuts in welfare and  the privatisation of national assets the working classes in both Britain and Ireland  are under the hammer and need to unite and resist capitalism. Distraction like flags, or  armed actions do nothing to advance the cause of the working class. Let us learn the lessons of history. 


Some thoughts on "Socialism 2012"

A conference entitled Socialism 2012  was held in Belfast on 27th October. It was organised by the Socialist Party with a view to discuss 
"how a socialist, working class alternative can be built in Northern Ireland.
Bizarrely the opening session featured a debate entitled 
 Austerity: A price worth paying?"
featuring  Daniel Waldron of Socialist Youth and Bill Manwaring, Chair of the Northern Ireland Conservatives. Yes you read that right! A member of the Tory Party speaking at an event that poses the serious question  ‘Time for a new working class party?’

While the comrades in the SP are to be congratulated on their initiative they shot themselves in the foot with this debate. In a room full of socialists looking to see was there a way forward to build a mass party of the working class the heavily one sided debate only reinforced what the body of the conference already believed, that austerity was bad for the working class. This was not a genuine debate but a free shot at the Tories. Simply to reinforce our own beliefs and exposing the shallowness of the Tory arguments  is no way to build a party of the working class.

The second session was entitled "Tearing down the peace walls - How can sectarianism be overcome?’ with two speakers, Ciaran Mulholland, from the Socialist Party and Tommy McKearney, an ex-republican prisoner. Both agreed that Imperialism had exploited sectarian division and that the emergence of two states within Ireland had indeed produced two essentially sectarian states. However Tommy Mc Kearney pointed out that conditions had changed and the power sharing arrangements covered up a sectarian  carve up.

Ciaran Mulholland described how the ‘peace process’ has failed to deliver for working class Catholics and Protestants, and that sectarian division has actually increased. However he failed to point out that 
the Socialist Party had argued for a "yes" vote in the referendum that followed the GFA claiming that a 

In actual fact it was the yes vote that " strengthened the camp of sectarian reaction.

Then as now they argued for a alternative to right wing and sectarian politics. Unfortunately while no particular blame can be attached to the SP for the failure to build such an alternative,  14 years on  and Northern Ireland is an even more deeply entrenched sectarian state that it was then. 

In calling for a Yes vote in 1998 the Socialist Party effectively endorsed a sectarian  Imperialist carve up. 

The whole approach of the SP speakers from both the floor and the platform was one of 

"and on the one hand and on the other hand"

In other words balance unionist sectarianism with nationalist sectarianism. If the Northern state was sectarian then so also was the southern state. Therefore they were equally sectarian. Acts of republicans are sectarian just as are those of loyalists. This "plague on both your houses" approach is essentially dishonest, and  ends up giving a falsified view of history.
For example read this from Ciaran Mulholland

"The refusal of the leadership of the trade unions and the Northern Ireland Labour Party to give a lead against repression, sectarianism and to fight for a socialist alternative allowed right-wing middle class Catholic forces, personified by the former leader of the SDLP, John Hume, to transform the civil rights movement. It became a movement for rights for Catholics, thereby cutting across the potential for a united working class alternative."

Two major errors here at least.  The Civil Rights  Movement did not become a movement for rights for Catholics and the labelling of  John Hume  is simply lazy rhetoric. After all when the SDLP was formed they affiliated  with European social democratic parties, one of which was the British Labour Party with which  the Militant tendency(Forerunner of the SP)  was also associated.  Did that make Militant right wing?Of course not.

In actual fact John Hume represented the aspirations of the catholic middle classes restricted from advancement by a sectarian state and a political Party, the Ulster Unionist Party that for 50 years had blatantly discriminated against the Catholic population.
Speakers called on the labour movement to campaign against sectarianism but again this is rhetoric. All the unions are against sectarianism-some more than others. Who actually supports and say they support sectarianism?

Even First Minister Robinson supports a "Northern Ireland at peace with itself"while his Finance Minister Wilson makes racist jibes about his fellow Sinn Fein ministers!

It is the nature of Northern Ireland.

The final debate of the conference was on" Time for a new working class party?" with a series of speakers including Gayle Matthews from the PCS union, Gerry Grainger from the Workers Party, Padraig Mulholland, the President of the main public sector union, NIPSA, Jimmy Kelly, the Unite Regional Secretary, Joe Higgins TD (MP in Irish Republic) and Carmel Gates from the Socialist Party.
the platform party
The WP Speaker was the only one to oppose the idea of a new party but in favour of co-operation on the left. All others favoured an organised campaign in the unions and in communities to oppose the austerity policies emanating from Stormont.

It is  important to look at what is happening to  he labour movement itself. Trade union membership in the North has declined by 17,000 in the 10 years to 2011. Now there are only 226,000 workers in trade unions in the north. More and more workers  are in low paid unorganised service industries. Graduates are entering call centres and also doing part time-work in cafes and restaurants.  It is the public sector that is unionised and the employers use this as a stick to try to separate public sector workers from private sector workers. Then on top of that there is the deep sectarian divisions within northern society.

 Building a mass working class party would be an enormously difficult task.   But it will not happen by a merger of small socialist groups who gloss over their histories or their differences. To be fair to the platform  no one suggested that but believed in the need to concentrate on the unions and the youth to build an alternative. If  following this conference there is an engagement with all progressive sections of the working classes  in the north including progressive republicans and loyalists
over a sustained period parallelled with unified actions in support of the working class then there just may be some glimmer of hope on the horizon.

    Missing their sense of purpose- 

Over the last few years various news reports have revealed plans by one of the 26 counties largest trade unions, SIPTU (Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union), to build a new tower block on the site of the present 17 storey  office block owned by the union, Liberty Hall, on Eden Quay. 

The proposed new tower block would, if approved, have been a 22 storey leviathan that would have dominated Dublin's skyline for years to come. On Saturday November 17th 2012 the Irish Daily Mirror on page 12 headlined “SKYSCRAPPED, Union fury after planning bosses block new HQ”. This was in reference to the An Bord Pleanala decision to block the development. SIPTU General Secretary, Joe O’Flynn, said “The union, our architects and professional advisors have put five years hard work into this project including an enormous amount of consultation with Dublin City Council”.

Would this “five years hard work” not have been better spent working out a formula to prevent the savage cuts experienced by their members by the government/bosses onslaught against the working class? Would the, no doubt, phenomenal amount of money intended to be spent on this monstrosity not have being better put into a strike fund in preparation for a general strike against austerity? 

Obviously SIPTUs priorities are more about keeping up with the capitalist enemies, that is if capitalism is SIPTUs enemy, state of the arts buildings than preparing their members for the coming apocalypse against the proletariat of Ireland as a whole, in fact Europe as a whole. It is a fact that any trade union needs modest though smart and comfortable offices. 

There is however a large expanse of space between modest, smart, comfortable offices and a building which would rival the New York Hilton. The money could and should have been put into an orchestrated campaign of resistance, through the general strike, with strike pay, disobedience and ultimately seditious revolution against the system of exploitation. With this money small comfortable sub offices where members could call in should have been opened in every city throughout the 26 counties. Obviously this was not and perhaps never will be, SIPTUs aims and objectives. This is surprising considering one of the unions senior officers is reportedly a former member of the Trotskyite Workers Revolutionary Party part of whose policies is/was the general strike!

 General strikes cost money, members who are taking this course of direct action need supporting. Their children need clothing and feeding, admittedly not to the standards of so called normality but starvation is also not an option, particularly when money to the tune of what this new Skyscraper would have cost is quite evidently available. 

Of course there is another possibility as to why An Bord Pleanala turned down the unions application. Could it be as we enter a new stage of the  capitalist epoch that the system does not perceive a long term need for trade unions? Therefore why go through the motions of allowing them to build plush new offices! As we enter an era introducing more and more anti working class legislation, arguably to the point in certain areas of Para Fascism, (see The Nature Of Fascism: Roger Griffin) not to be mistaken with the complete ideology of fascism itself, the capitalist system may be envisaging an environment without the nuisance of trade unions! Who would stop such a scenario? 

After all when Hitler closed the trade unions down in Nazi Germany there was no general strike, not even a word spoke in opposition! If, in Ireland, the trade unions became, either through their own inaction or governmental legislation, redundant or surplus to requirements who would complain? At the moment many working class people purvey the impression that they are in a union as a “favour”, that they could quite easily do without trade unions! The question we must ask is why do such attitudes of flippancy exist within the ranks of the “neo proletariat”. I use this term because of the changes in the means of production from industrial to post industrial technological modes of production. 

Whatever the pros and cons are one issue must stand out like a sore thumb! Why does a large trade union like SIPTU need,or indeed can afford, a large gigantic tower block consisting of 22 storeys featuring a “theatre, a sky deck with panoramic views of the capital and a heritage centre focusing on the country’s labour movement”? Of all these extras perhaps only the heritage centre bears any relevance to what SIPTU and indeed the trade union movement as a whole is/are all about. What would be wrong with having a smaller heritage centre in more modest offices with similar facilities  in every major city in Ireland? Just a thought!

When members see their union subscriptions going on projects of this magnitude, coupled with poor representation along with an anti trade union establishment is there little wonder membership of trade unions is sadly on the decrease?                            

Kevin Morley                                                                                                              

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Red Plough Vol 3-10

The Red Plough

Vol. 3-No 10
 November 2012

1/Why I won't be wearing a Poppy on Remembrance 

2/ Acts of War?

The eleventh day of November is a day of remembrance for me, a date of coincidence as well as personal memories, a lot more than could be fitted into that 'minute of silence'.
Even though some of those who are the subjects of my thoughts are not directly connected to the day of remembrance as it was originally intended, I have not lost sight of that intention.

Lieutenant Colonel John Alexander McCrae
 who wrote In Flanders Field
A poem penned in anguish by a Canadian surgeon on the battlefield at Flanders in WW1, after the death of a comrade, began the association of the crimson poppy with the war dead and a desire for peace.
The poppy was first used as a memorial symbol in America and then France, when paper poppies were made and sold to raise funds to help children orphaned by the war.
The British connection only began in 1921 when the newly founded British Legion started the 'Poppy Day Appeal' to collect for poor and disabled veterans.
That the organisation's main founder had been the Commander-in-Chief of the British armed forces in Europe, the man ultimately responsible for sending hundreds of thousands 'over the top' to certain, inescapable death is ironic, to say the least.

Field Marshal Douglas Haig

WW1 was a battle for territory lost in previous wars between many colonial powers who shared all manner of treaties and alliances, some of the participating countries using war as a convenient way to counter social upheavals in their own jurisdictions. The millions of ordinary working class people of all nationalities who died had nothing whatever to gain by fighting in this war, so while I believe it is right to remember them, the language of the organised memorial denies this truth and glorifies war.
A poet whose words described the horror of WW1 more vividly than any picture, was to be one of its last victims.

The young Wilfred Owen wrote;

"Dulce et Decorum Est"
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, –
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori."

My paternal Grandfather was taken in by that lie, so keen was he to fight for his country that he couldn't wait until adulthood. Adding a year to his age on the application, the young Willie Craig went to France in 1915 where he soon learned that war was more about brutality than glory. Like most of those involved in the battles of WW1 Willie didn't talk much about his experiences but here's one of the few that he did pass on:

One warm summer night Willie was on watch in the trench illuminated by the full Moon. As he crouched, his back against the wall with his rifle resting upright by his side, bayonet pointing towards the cloudless sky he heard a scraping sound coming from 'no man's land', above and behind him. Without getting up or moving the rifle, he reached over and placed his finger on the trigger. Just then a shadow appeared on the opposite wall of the trench, someone was coming over the top above him. When the shadow grew bigger Willie called out, 'who goes there?', but when he got no reply he pulled the trigger, the rifle shot rang out followed by the thud of a body hitting the floor of the trench. When the dust cleared, Willie was amazed to find that he had not shot and killed an enemy soldier but a giant rat, which had been feeding on the rotting corpses in ' no Man's land'.

A few weeks after this incident Willie was caught in a gas attack, he was captured and spent the rest of the war in Germany as slave labour in a coal mine. Returning to Belfast at the end of the war, my grandfather with damaged lungs from the gassing and the mine, joined the ranks of the unemployed digging the streets for relief payments, suffering state brutality in the strike of 1932. By WW2 he had gained employment as a sorter in the Royal mail, where he remained until his retirement in the 1960's.
"an act of national pride"-
If the wearing the poppy was about remembrance of people like my Grandfather, I would be happy to wear one, but unfortunately the war to end all wars did not, and the settlement agreed in its aftermath led to WW2.
It could be argued that WW2 was necessary because it was the only way to stop World domination by fascism, but there were many opportunities to prevent the fascists from taking power in the first place, but no will to do so.
Since WW2 British forces have been involved in 60 wars, most of these were imperialist, none can be justified. David Cameron gave the game away in a debate with the football association this week when he said, “wearing the poppy is an act of national pride”.
Jingoist Cameron and Irish nationalists share the mistaken view that the poppy is an exclusively British symbol of remembrance

As an Irish Socialist Republican I am not anti-British but I certainly am anti-imperialist and anti-war.
Coincidently, my father, a life-long pacifist died on 11th hour of 11th November in 1984!
Michael Craig.

Acts of War?

The recent killing of a prison warden from Maghaberry prison  by as yet unknown republican grouping has sent shock waves through the body politic. Many had assumed that as a result of the outpourings of both the Good Friday Agreement and the St Andrews Agreement the days of violence were behind us. 

Sadly that is not true. No one with any sense of humanity in them can take pleasure in the deliberate killing of a fellow human being. As we approach the anniversary of the ending of the First World War, celebrated with chauvinistic glee by the British ruling classes, we should never forget the horrors of war, the savage slaughter of millions and the glorification  of the "nation" and the demonisation of the enemy.

"all warfare is inhuman, all warfare is barbaric; the first blast of the bugles of war ever sounds for the time being the funeral knell of human progress…"

But despite the experiences of the horrors of war there are sadly those who still wallow in the glorification of war and the use of violence against their perceived enemies.  A quick search of the web will produce discussion sites where juvenile comments are made about enemies, comments that reveal a lack of understanding of the consequences of war, of the dehumanising effects of  hatred and  a glorification in killing.

Some current political hostages
The mainstream media have speculated that the killing of the prison warder arose directly from the consequences of the current prison protest. There is a dirty protest taking place from protesting republican prisoners. They are protesting against strip searching and claim that the prison authorities reneged on a agreement reached 18 months ago.

Carl von Clausewitz

But then questions have to be asked- will the killing of the warden advance the cause of the prisoners, will it bring an end to the protest-will it force the prison authorities and the Stormont Administration to concede to the prisoners demands? 

A famous military strategist once wrote
"War is the continuation of Politik by other means" 

So what are or were the politics behind the killing? 

Clare Daly ULA
Two days after that event there was a march in Dublin calling for the release of Marian Price organised by the Free Marian Price Campaign. While there was a ban on  party banners the march was in itself political. It was exposing the vindictive nature of the British Government, exposing the selective internment of those who reject the pacification programmes of the Government, explicit in the outpourings of the Good Friday Agreement and the St Andrews Agreement. But there were only about 450 people on the march and one of the speakers, Clare Daly formerly of the Socialist Party and still in the moribund United Left Alliance felt that she had to mention the killing of the Prison Warden and condemn it. She was  she said a supporter of human rights  and that included the human rights of Marian  and David Black. 

Her attendance at the march and her decision to speak was, particularly given her long background in the Socialist Party,-(for long perceived as having an anti-republican  and a pro-loyalist agenda)  a politically significant step. We, in the Red Plough have long argued that the failure of the "left" to engage with republicanism was and still is, a mistake. So here was a minor break through. Sadly many who would have been on the march probably stayed away because of the killing. 
So we would argue that the killing far from advancing a mass struggle outside the jail in support of  political prisoners has on the contrary set back any serious efforts to garner support from a wide cross section of people.

The struggle in the prison has been ongoing for a long time. There have been efforts to resolve that situation also for a long time. Talks in the background had been taking place to reach a settlement.
In the light of the killing does anyone seriously think that the situation will be resolved sooner or later? Will the killing of one prison warder, or the killing of ten make any difference to British policy? On the contrary it will only harden their resolve.  Indeed one would think that perhaps that was the intent behind the armed action.  

Perhaps there are people out there who think a movement can be built on the backs of the prisoners struggles and sacrifices? If so they are sadly deluded. The  history of prison protests shows that only on very few occasions did the people on the outside give mass support to the prisoners and go on to build a mass movement.  Those were in the aftermath of the 1916 uprising and the 1981 hunger strikes.  Within 10 years following 1916 a mass movement was destroyed, Ireland was partitioned, thousands of republicans were jailed and the republican movement all but destroyed. And  British Imperialism still ruled Ireland.

10 republican prisoners died on hunger strike in 1981. Their deaths propelled Provisional Sinn Fein into electoral prominence. They, PSF, then went on to negotiate away the political concession wrung from the Brits, in exchange for power sharing and the baubles of office. Despite having the most effective guerrilla army in Europe the Provo armed struggle failed miserably. The Republican armed  struggle was defeated. The Republican political struggle only ended up with an even more entrenched sectarian state than before.  Yes, Republicans are serving in a British run administration but that won't make a basic bit of differences to the lives of the working classes whether catholic or protestant. And British imperialism still rules in Ireland.

So it is hard to see the politics behind the current armed actions of republican groups. That is other than a mere longing for a United Ireland. There is little united actions among republicans to bring masses onto the streets. There are few signs of reaching out tot he working classes. Instead what comes across is an elitist arrogance that only they, and they alone, know what is good for the people of ireland. In that they are no different from the leaderships of both administrations on the isle of Ireland.
 "We see, therefore, that war is not merely an act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse carried on with other means. What remains peculiar to war is simply the peculiar nature of its means."

Where is the political intercourse? We see little or no evidence of it. It seems that the end is armed struggle as if that in itself is enough. Or is there a thought that a torch can be passed onto future generations so that they can rise  from the flames and initial an armed struggle that can achieve  republican goals?
Was it for this that Wolfe Tone wrote,

"To subvert the tyranny of our execrable government, to break the connection with England, the never-failing source of all our political evils and to assert the independence of my country- these were my objectives. To unite the whole people of Ireland, to abolish the memory of all past dissensions, and to substitute the common name of Irishman in place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter - these were my means."- 

Where is "means"today in armed actions.

Will it unite "the whole people of Ireland"? 

Will it "abolish the memory of all past dissensions,"?

Will it "substitute the common name of Irishman in place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter "?

Furthermore there is little evidence of  objectives such as 

"subvert the tyranny of our execrable government," 

"break the connection with England"  

"assert the independence of my country"

Sadly the road some republicans are walking down is a road to death, jail and political oblivion. It is not the road to either a United Ireland  or  a Socialist Republic? When in the light of past failures down a particular road, one keeps going down that road then surely it is time to pack it in.
There is however another road. However it is not a road for elitists, not a road for self appointed "leaderships" nor a road for those who "tax" drug dealers (thereby legitimising and licensing drug dealing)  nor a road for those who are 

 "known as a ‘physical force party’ – a party, that is to say, whose members are united upon no one point, and agree upon no single principle, except upon the use of physical force as the sole means of settling the dispute between the people of this country and the governing power of Great Britain.

James Connolly
Other countries and other peoples have, from time to time, appealed to what the first French Revolutionists picturesquely described as the “sacred right of insurrection,” but in so appealing they acted under the inspiration of, and combated for, some great governing principle of political or social life upon which they, to a man, were in absolute agreement. 

The latter-day high falutin’ ‘hillside’ man, on the other hand, exalts into a principle that which the revolutionsists of other countries have looked upon as a weapon, and in his gatherings prohibits all discussion of those principles which formed the main  "strength of his prototypes elsewhere and made the successful use of that weapon possible.
(James Connolly)

That other road is one that requires patience, persistence and political struggle. It is the road of class struggle. It is the road to socialism and it is a road that neither elevates any method of struggle as a principle nor dismisses any method of struggle. The building of  an alternative to what now exists in both parts of Ireland has no short cuts.  The existing leaderships of the current radical socialist and republican groupings face a huge responsibility of leadership in these times. Are they capable of leading or are they just content to follow the course of least resistance?

Gerry Ruddy

Below is the recently released RNU position paper on Post Good Friday Ireland and the place of Revolutionary Republicanism within the modern Irish Political System.
This is a work in progresss and RNU welcome constructive comradely criticism.
Click on the link below.