Beyond the Pale


Nine Centuries of Domination and Resistance

From the Conquest to the Penal Laws
The Birth of Irish Republicanism
The Dawn of Republican Socialism
James Connolly, the ICA & the Easter Rising
National Revolution and Civl War
Republican & Workers in the Irish Free State

From Civil War to the War for Civil Rights

The Civil War to World War II
The Border Campaign to Civil Rights
The Provisional Split
Internment and Bloody Sunday
The European Community
Special Legislation
The Official's Cease-fire

War in the Streets, Struggle in the Prisons

The Officials/IRSP Split
Loyalist Opposition and Terror
The Peace People
The Prison Struggle
The 1980 Hunger Strike
The 1981 Hunger Strike

Ireland Since the Hunger Strike

Ireland Joins the 20th Century
Economic Climate
The Political Arena
Social Issues
British Terror
The National Liberation Forces
Loyalist Reaction
Things to Come



The long history of Ireland, especially the more than 800 years of British colonial and imperialist intervention there and the corresponding centuries of war for national liberation, has generated vast numbers of books to tell the tale. Many of these provide an excellent overview of Irish history from the Celtic period, now shrouded in the mists of time, to the modern era. Few, if any, however, bring the story of this centuries-old struggle up to the present, or deal in any significant way with the tumultuous events of the past decade. It is therefore a daunting task to those who would better their understanding of Ireland's history to do so, without consulting many volumes of works on the subject. Understanding that many would like a brief, but comprehensive outline of Irish history, we in the Irish Republican Socialist Committee of North America have published this very abbreviated pamphlet as a general introduction on the subject. We encourage our readers to explore the subject more deeply through other works available from the IRSC, as well as the many other sources available on the topic. While brief, we have attempted to make this pamphlet a comprehensive study of Ireland's history since the English conquest. Though the more knowledgeable reader will no doubt find we have omitted many details in our attempt at brevity, we feel confident our readers will find the work a good introductory history of Ireland given its limited number of pages.

In addition to attempting to partially correct for the current lack of such a work incorporating recent historical developments, we chose to publish this pamphlet to present a distinctly republican socialist perspective on Irish history. Each historian writes from a particular bias or orientation towards his/her subject, and we make no attempt to hide the fact that we have written this pamphlet from our own perspective, nor do we make any apologies for our partisanship. Nonetheless, we have striven to offer a balanced view of the subject, presenting a history rooted in historical fact and honest scholarship. Far too many elements of historical fiction have wound their way into works on Irish history, and where possible, we have attempted to set the record straight.

Liberation movements around the globe have drawn important lessons and inspiration from Ireland's long history of resistance. We can only hope that the readers of this pamphlet will also find some of value to themselves.

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by Peter Urban

From the Conquest to the Penal Laws

In 1169, barely a century after the Norman invasion of Celtic/Saxon Britain gave rise to the entity of England, the expansionist feudal lords of England invaded neighboring Ireland, thereby beginning a history of Irish national resistance to foreign domination, now in its ninth century. For the first 450 years after the invasion, a Hibernicized Anglo-Irish aristocracy administered the area of Dublin and its surrounding "Pale" (the ring of land around Dublin within which the English were able to enforce their rule), while traditional Irish chieftains received feudal titles from English overlords, but maintained a semblance of native Irish society. Periodically the Irish clans rose in revolt against English domination, the last and most dramatic being the insurrection of the O'Neills of Ulster against Queen Elizabeth I during the 1560s. The failed rebellion contributed a host of aristocratic Irish emigres to France, and frightened the English sufficiently to cause them to seek more secure methods of controlling their colonial territory of Ireland.

In 1608, vast tracts of land in northeast Ulster were cleared of their native inhabitants in order to provide space for the "plantation" of English and Anglicized Scots. This undertaking included the annexation of six entire counties (the original six were Donegal, Tyrone, Cavan, Fermanagh, Armagh and Derry, but not include Antrim or Down, which are currently part of the six counties occupied by Britain), totalling over 600,000 acres. The native Irish were removed from all but 50,000 acres in the effected counties. A much smaller plantation attempted previously in the southern province of Munster, under Henry VIII, failed, but having learned from past mistakes, the Plantation of Ulster was to forever transform the course of Irish history. Whereas the English colonists came from the world's first Protestant regime, Ireland never experienced the Reformation. This simple fact gives us the shorthand still used today, "Catholics" meaning the native Irish people and "Protestants" to indicate the descendants of England's settler colonialists. The success of settler colonialism in Ireland proved a blow to peoples throughout the world-within 50 years, settler colonial invasions were planted at Jamestown in North America and Capetown in southern Africa.

Following the Plantation, England's intervention in Irish affairs reached intense levels, and remained there. Cromwell's Parliamentarian army of the English bourgeois revolution may have introduced regicide to the world stage, as Friedrich Engels claimed, but it brought only devastation to Ireland. Cromwell invaded Ireland with the war cry, "To Hell or Connacht," giving the Irish people the choice of withdrawing from their homes to the nation's barren province, or being killed. Connacht remains Ireland's richest reservoir of traditional culture and the Irish language, as Cromwell's troops permitted English colonists and English culture to penetrate throughout the rest of Ireland.

The restoration of the Stuart monarchy did little to alleviate Ireland's suffering under its colonial yoke, rather it set the stage for ever harsher developments. When civil war broke out between Catholic James II and Protestant Mary and her co-monarch William of Orange, James' troops retreated for a last stand in Ireland's Boyne Valley. The victory of William of Orange in Ireland is commemorated each year, up to the present, by Ulster's colonial descendants. That victory brought about the passage of the draconian Penal Laws. The Penal Laws all but outlawed Catholicism in Ireland, beginning an association in popular sentiment of that religion with Irish nationalism. They also deprived Irish Catholic landowners from leaving property to a sole heir, while allowing Protestant settlers to do so, resulting in native held estates being progressively subdivided into increasingly unviable economic units.

The Birth of Irish Republicanism

The Irish forced from the land provided a labor source for the expanding industrial enterprises in the north of Ireland. Despite England's mercantilist legislation restricting Irish industry from developing into a competitive force-contributing to members of Ulster's nascent bourgeoisie emigrating to the American colonies and helping to fuel anti-colonial revolution there-industrial production did grow and with it grew the two classes of industrial society, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

The development of capitalism in Ireland transformed the character of Irish national resistance, bringing to birth Irish Republicanism. The revolutionary organization of Irish republicanism was the United Irishmen, led primarily by Ulster Protestants from the capitalist class, most notably Theobald Wolfe Tone, allied with the young Ulster proletariat as well as the Irish peasantry. Inspired by the American and French revolutions, the United Irishmen rose in revolt against English colonialism in 1798. Having forged relations with the Jacobin regime, the United Irishmen later sought military support from France's Directory government which followed. United Irishmen delegates, in Paris to meet with French government officials, denounced the proto-socialist insurrectionist followers of Babeuf, then opposing the increasingly reactionary Directory government, but back in Ireland, the rank and file United Irishmen, drawn chiefly from the proletariat, began to develop their own perspective, just as their French cousins who joined Babeuf had.

Though the 1798 insurrection mobilized revolutionary forces throughout Ireland, it was quickly crushed by England. French assistance came too little and too late; the sole French landing of military assistance was stopped virtually on the shore as they put into the isolated Mayo coast. Two lasting effects resulted from the rising: in 1801 the Act of Union was forced upon Ireland, stripping the last vestiges of Irish independence, and religious sectarianism was institutionalized. As the revolutionary message of the United Irishmen brought together Irish native and Ulster settler in national insurrection, English colonialism sought to divide them again by fomenting religious bigotry. The "Orange Order" was founded in 1795 in direct response to the United Irishmen, and has ever since spewed forth virulent propaganda against "Popery and Papism," declaring Catholics to be virtual agents of the Anti-Christ and calling Protestants to a holy war to save civilization-that is, English domination of Ireland. Tone, leader of the United Irishmen and himself a Protestant, commented in 1796, "I see the Orange boys are playing the devil in Ireland, I have no doubt it is the work of the Government." Since the late 18th century, every movement to unite Protestant and Catholic in Ireland in common struggle for common interests has been shattered by playing the "Orange Card" of religious sectarianism.

In reaction to the oppression of the Penal Laws and the rise of Protestant sectarianism, Catholicism took on the aura of Irish nationalism. With the repeal of most of the Penal Law's persecution of Catholic religious practice after the Act of Union, Catholicism swelled into a potent social force in Irish society. Before the 19th century, the masses of Ireland, its peasant class, were at best nominal in their Catholicism, but as the century progressed, clerical domination grew. The Catholic Church, while bestowed with the mantle of Irish nationalism, became yet another source of social and political conservatism among the Irish people. Before the end of the century, the Catholic hierarchy would use the pulpit to denounce armed nationalist movements and budding socialist organizations alike, as well trade unions. Despite this new fifth column of English colonialism and capitalist exploitation, the revolutionary movement continued to burst into flaming rebellion.

Two years after the Act of Union, in 1803, an attempted insurrection was led by Robert Emmett, though this was immediately put down. Resistance began to take other forms than direct struggle in arms, however, and Daniel O'Connell undertook the leadership of a legal reform movement aimed at repeal of the Penal Laws. The movement met with some success in gaining its limited aims and resulted in the Roman Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, giving Catholics the right to run for election and sit in Parliament for the first time since 1691. Though O'Connell next turned his attentions to a movement to repeal the Act of Union, he was unable to win compromise in this area, central as it was to British objectives in Ireland.

The Dawn of Republican Socialism

Within decades, a new movement grew up throughout Ireland calling itself Young Ireland, taking its name from the Young Hungary nationalist movement arising within the Austrian Empire. Again, many of the revolutionary leaders of the movement were drawn from the Protestant population, including Young Ireland's leader, Thomas Davis. Two leaders of particular note are associated with Young Ireland, and their contribution to Irish republicanism marks the deepening orientation towards the interests of Ireland's working masses, of socialism. One of these was the fiery propagandist James Fintan Lalor. Lalor redefined Irish republicanism by inseparably linking the political liberation of the Irish nation with the social emancipation of the masses, the peasantry. Lalor declared that it was not sufficient to repeal the Act of Union, but that the "repeal of the conquest, not just the union"-and its feudal land division-must be accomplished. Lalor unceasingly spoke out for nationalization of land in Ireland, to be held by the nation as a whole. James Stephens was the key figure within Young Ireland's leadership in forging an alliance between the movement and Lalor, who began his propaganda efforts independently. Stephens also fought for a deepening of Young Ireland's social program. In 1848, Young Ireland rose in revolt, despite failing to gain support they sought from France, and immediately following the collapse of the Chartist movement in England, in April 1848, which left the British in a strengthened position. They centered the insurrection in Kilkenny and initially met tremendous popular support, but by early August the insurrection collapsed. It is interesting to note that the Catholic Cardinal of Ireland at that time denounced Young Ireland as "a most dangerous party" and on the day the insurrection was defeated, Pope Pius IX formally warned against the movement. After the defeat Stephens fled in exile to France, where he was associated with several socialist secret societies, including Auguste Blanqui's Society of the Seasons. He later fought in the ranks of the "Red Republicans" against the reaction of Louis Napoleon.

Though Young Ireland represented the renewal of Irish republicanism and marked its movement towards socialism, its impact on Irish society was dwarfed by what occurred around it. After being transplanted from the Americas, the potato swiftly became the staple of the Irish peasantry, who came to rely almost entirely on the crop to sustain themselves. When a potato blight swept through Ireland during the years 1845 to 1850, the result was starvation on a mass level. During the five years of the potato blight, Ireland's population of 8,196,597 (according to the 1841 census) was reduced by 1.5 million deaths and an equal number of forced emigrations. Ireland was never again to achieve its pre-1846 population level. This period is misleadingly referred to as "the Famine," yet throughout the years of starvation, Ireland continued to export food crops unabated. Colonial landlords, usually absentee, cultivated crops, chiefly grain, for export on their estates, leaving the tenant peasantry to subsist on the potatoes they grew on the small scrub holdings they maintained for themselves. These landlords continued to export grain to England, even when peasants were left starving from the potato crop failure. Historian G.M. Young has estimated enough grain was exported from Ireland in each year of the "famine" to have fed the whole of its population. The attitude of many ruling class English is reflected in the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Charles Wood, to an Irish landlord: "I am not at all appalled by your tenantry going. That seems to me a necessary part of the process. . . We must not complain of what we really want to obtain." Karl Marx used the episode of the potato blight as graphic illustration of the process of primitive accumulation of capital in his work Das Kapital, presenting a staggering image of social and economic upheaval. The massive shift in land titles during this brief period is almost unbelievable, as huge quantities of land were transferred from a multitude of small holders and concentrated in the hands of a small number of landlords of increasingly vast estates. In 1879, for example, fewer than 4,000 landlords owned 80% of Ireland's profitable land, while five million peasants owned nothing.

As Irish society sought to stabilize itself following "the famine," Irish republicanism coalesced into a coherent movement once again. James Stephens returned from exile and set upon the formation of a new revolutionary organization. Known first as the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood, and later as the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the IRB passed into history best known by their popular name, "The Fenians." Formed in 1858, the IRB served as the primary vehicle of Irish republicanism for over 50 years, when their radical wing merged into the newly formed Irish Republican Army during the Easter Rising of 1916. The IRB expanded the scope of Ireland's struggle for national liberation in a host of ways, including taking military attacks to Britain itself and forging a far-reaching international organization based in the Irish emigre population of North America and elsewhere. An ill-fated Fenian military assault was even launched from the US into Canada, in 1866. The IRB also brought a profound new focus on the plight of Irish republican prisoners, the legacy of which is still felt today. The actual Fenian Rising took place on Easter Sunday, in 1867, but, partially due to an very unusual March blizzard, the insurrection met with less success than had Young Ireland, and was ended in an even shorter period of time. The IRB, however, lived on beyond its attempted rising, and carried the republican movement into the 20th century.

Arising during the same period as the Fenians, the International Workingmens' Association, or First International, was created to bring socialist and labor organizations throughout Europe, and the world, into a unified force. Marx and Engels, as leaders of the International's Executive Council in London, placed great emphasis on the large Irish proletarian emigre community in England. Engels took a particularly deep interest in Irish affairs. Both of his, successive, wives, who were sisters, were daughters of a Fenian leader. Engels travelled throughout Ireland on three occasions, began writing a book on Irish history (unfortunately never finished), and even taught himself the Irish language. Marx and Engels hoped the example of armed revolutionaries in Ireland would help to break English workers from the reformism of their own political organizations, and argued that the English proletarians would never be prepared to undertake their own liberation until they broke ideologically with the imperialist policies of the British State in Ireland. In addition, they considered Ireland to be the "fortress of English landlordism." Showing perhaps a touch of acquired Irish sensibility himself, Engels said of Irish landlords, "Those fellows ought to be shot."

Marx and Engels also strongly lobbied for the admission of J.P. McDonnell onto the Executive Council. McDonnell, an ex-Fenian, joined the Council as the corresponding secretary for the Irish sections and had a profound influence on the International and the early socialist development in Ireland. The International took root among Irish immigrant workers in Britain, as well as founding several chapters in Dublin and Cork. The chapters in Ireland itself came under virulent attack from Catholic clerics, inciting violent assaults on meetings of the International there. Nonetheless, Irish members continued to be an extremely important aspect of the International's membership until its end. When the executive of the First International was transferred to America, in 1872, two Irish members were elected onto the Executive Council, and Irish emigrees in America were noted as among the Internationals most valued. The importance of the First International in Irish history lies not chiefly in the lasting impact of its chapters there, however, but in internationally publicizing the struggle of the Fenians and the plight of their prisoners. Marx's daughter Jenny was the first journalist outside of Ireland to break the story of the inhuman treatment meted out to Fenian leader O'Donovan Rossa while in British prison. In addition, the International helped to organize mass demonstrations supporting the Fenians in London, and raised money for their relief.

In this period of historical tumult for Ireland, yet another figure is especially worthy of note. Michael Davitt was raised in an Irish immigrant family in England, where early in his life he was permanently handicapped in an industrial accident in a Lancashire cotton mill. He became a Fenian leader, and was sentenced to 15 years hard labor in 1870, at the age of 24, for his part in a plot to seize arms from Chester Jail in 1867. He moved to Ireland as a propagandist and organizer after his release, and formed the Land League, a mass peasants' rights movement, in 1879. The League was founded in response to the deteriorating situation of the Irish peasantry, made unbearable by the worst failure of the potato crop since 1846. The Land League gained the support of both the armed revolutionaries of the IRB and the constitutional nationalists of the Irish Home Rule League, founded by Charles Stuart Parnell in 1871. Around the time the Land League was founded, the peasants' plight was such that in a three year period over 300,000 tenant farmers were evicted. The "Land Wars" organized by the Land League consisted of organized mass rent strikes. The campaign resulted in the passage in 1881 of the Land Act, which provided tenant farmers with the so called "three F's," fixity of tenure, fair rents, and freedom of the tenant to sell his right of occupancy. Davitt attempted to transform the crusade to embrace the needs of the industrial working class as well, forming the Land and Labour League, but working class organization was already taking on distinct forms arising out of their class character.

James Connolly, the ICA and the Easter Rising

In 1898, James Connolly, yet another activist born to Irish immigrants in Britain, though this time in Edinburgh, Scotland, moved to Dublin to accept a position as an organizer for the fledgling Irish Socialist Republican Party. Connolly, already a socialist leader in Scotland, was to become the greatest Marxist organizer and theorist in the history of Ireland. In the tradition of Lalor, Connolly welded the struggle for Irish independence to the social emancipation of Ireland's masses, now increasingly the working class. Connolly's contribution to the movement for the social emancipation of the Irish working class cannot be overestimated, and his profound analysis of the relationship between national liberation and socialism in colonized nations serves as an important contribution to the literature of international Marxism.

Connolly spent two extended periods of time in the United States between his arrival in Dublin as an organizer for the ISRP and his death in the 1916 rising, during which time he worked with the Socialist Labor Party and helped to form the Industrial Workers of the World. The ISRP attended the Paris Congress of the Second International, in 1902, where they were solidly alligned with the International's emerging left-wing. The Paris Congress also marked the first time Irish socialists won the right to be seated as a distinct nation, independent of Britain, at a congress of the Second International.

Connolly's dedication to industrial unionism in Ireland resulted in the formation of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, still Ireland's largest union and originally founded as a vehicle for revolutionary organization of workers both to address bread-and-butter issues in the workplace and to organize for the eventual transformation of the social order. In the pitched labor battles of 1913 in Dublin, Connolly joined with Jim Larkin and other working class activists to forge the Irish Citizen Army. The ICA was formed to defend pickets in the long strike/lock out of 1913, but under Connolly's leadership grew into what Lenin called "the first Red Army in Europe," a military organization of the proletariat that was to spearhead the insurrection against British imperialism in Ireland during the Easter Rising of 1916. Connolly also participated in the formation of the Irish Labour Party, and a host of other working class institutions throughout Ireland.

The importance of Connolly to the national liberation struggle lies chiefly in his analysis of the fight for national independence in the era of advanced capitalism. Connolly noted that the nation and its people cannot be divided, and that in modern society the masses of the people are the working class. Accordingly, he argued, one cannot separate the emancipation of the working masses from liberation of the subject nation. Further, Connolly argued forcefully that none but the working class could be relied upon to undertake the liberation of the nation, as the social/economic interests of other classes would inhibit them from seeing the process through-recalling the words of Wolfe Tone a century earlier, that the revolution must depend on "that numerous and respectable class of the community, the men of no property."

In response to unceasing struggle on the part of the Irish people, the British House of Commons was pressed to pass bills for Home Rule in Ireland, in the form of the Government of Ireland Act, in 1912, 1913 and 1914, but each time the act was rejected by the House of Lords. Finally, in 1914, the House of Commons overrode the veto of the Lords and the act became law, but was never implemented due to the outbreak of the First World War. Ulster Loyalists began paramilitary mobilization against impending Home Rule, forming the Ulster Volunteers in 1913 with an original membership of 100,000 men, led by Lord Edward Carson. In response, Irish nationalists formed the Irish Volunteers to defend Home Rule. The IRB penetrated the ranks of the Irish Volunteers, though direct control was lost to reformist John Redmond, a constitutional nationalist. The nationalist movement had expanded into many aspects of Irish society, from the cultural arena of the Gaelic League and the Abbey Theater, to the bourgeois political organizations, such as Sinn Féin, founded by Arthur Griffith in 1905, and into the paramilitary groups, such as the Irish Volunteers, with their prominent IRB component, and the ICA. These many, often interlinking, entities reflected deepening support for the national liberation struggle, which both forced the passage of Home Rule in the British parliament, and was prematurely restrained, or delayed, in turn, by the promise of Home Rule.

When World War I pit worker against worker in various national uniforms with the resulting carnage, Connolly sought to move Irish workers into revolutionary action against British imperialism; to translate into action the slogan of the Zimmerwald Left (the name given to the Left Socialist leaders who met in Zimmerwald, Switzerland, in 1915, to organize a revolutionary response to the world war), "Turn the imperialist war into a class war!" When Redmond went so far as to encourage Irish Volunteers to join the British Army during World War I-hoping to win favor through British gratitude-the IRB led a split, drawing 12,000 Volunteers under their direction. The IRB/Volunteers were also pushing towards confrontation with England, but as Connolly's propaganda became more strident, the IRB became concerned over the prospect of the ICA seizing the initiative, and thereby the mantle of the national liberation struggle, which the IRB had held since Fenian times.

To avoid being eclipsed by independent action from the ICA, the IRB entered into negotiations (rumored to have been carried out after kidnapping him) with Connolly to coordinate their forces. After reaching an agreement in January 1916, which included Connolly being accepted into the IRB's leadership, the combined revolutionary movements began preparations to launch an insurrection on the Monday after Easter of that year. Eoin MacNeill, the conservative Chief of Staff of the Volunteers, became aware of the plot shortly before the date of the planned rising and issued orders countermanding mobilization by the Volunteers. Despite this attempt by reformists to thwart the rising, the IRB/Volunteers and ICA led their troops into battle in Dublin on the appointed day. The contradictory orders from the revolutionary and reformist leaderships, however, threw the Volunteers outside Dublin into confusion, thereby isolating the rebellion in the capital. Though the ICA was able to mobilize its own ranks in Belfast, unaided they failed to pose a sufficient force there to actively join in a general insurrection.

From the steps of the occupied General Post Office in Dublin, IRB leader Patrick Pearse read out a proclamation declaring the establishment of an Irish republic. The language of the Proclamation clearly belongs to the poet Pearse, but its social dimension, which read "We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland," demonstrated the impact of Connolly on the Rising's leadership. Yet, while Volunteers and the ICA soldiers fought side-by-side in Dublin, their combined numbers merged into the newly forged Irish Republican Army, Connolly counselled his troops to "hang onto your guns" when the initial rebellion was over, knowing their present allies would oppose the ICA revolutionaries' efforts to create a Workers' Republic. Isolated in Dublin, the insurrection held out for only six days before being forced to surrender by Britain's shelling of working class districts with naval artillery brought up the river Liffey. 20,000 British troops had been brought into battle against less than 1,800 combined combatants of the Volunteers and the ICA, and when the fighting ended, 64 republicans had been killed in action, while 103 British soldiers were killed and another 357 wounded. England, no doubt, felt it had killed the revolution when it led the leaders of the rising before a military firing squad, but James Connolly's parting words to his daughter Nora before his execution proved prophetic; he told her then, "We shall rise again!"

National Revolution and Civil War

The people of Ireland did, indeed, rise again, but class divisions within the movement were apparent everywhere, with some IRA units using their arms to force peasants to return expropriated estates to landlords, while other units joined in defending local soviets, such as the one formed in Limerick in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution. In the 1918 parliamentary elections the Irish republican political party, Sinn Féin ("Ourselves Alone") ran a slate on a platform to abstain from the British Parliament, and instead form a provisional Irish parliament. Sinn Féin won over 80% of the vote throughout Ireland, winning majorities in all but two counties in Ulster, and electing 73 Sinn Féiners of the 105 members of Parliament elected from Ireland. Among the Sinn Féin candidates was Constance Markievicz, who served with the ICA in the 1916 rising, and who became the first woman elected to the British Parliament. In January of 1919 the Sinn Féin MPs declared the formation of Dáil Eireann (the parliament of Ireland), which was to be defended by the Irish Republican Army, formed in the rising of 1916, but not formally subordinated to Dáil Eireann until 1921.

Britain, having demobilized its army following the end of the world war, quickly raised a military force of irregulars and mercenaries, chiefly recruited from British prisons in exchange for commuted sentences. Known as the Black and Tans, because the uniforms were composed of part police and part Army dress, this force was unleashed on a murderous rampage throughout the Irish countryside. The vicious, criminal actions of the Black and Tans, including rape, torture, and the burning and slaughter of entire towns, provoked international condemnation and a striking IRA military response. By late 1921, England was forced to offer a treaty, though they insisted on retaining control of six of Ulster's nine counties, allowing the British to carve out an artificially constructed Loyalist majority in the territory.

Militants within the national liberation movement continued to reject Britain's proposed partition of Ireland, but under the threat of massive artillery bombardment, a majority of the movement's leadership opted to sign the treaty, resulting in the creation of two new political entities on the island, the occupied six counties of Northern Ireland and the nominally independent Irish Free State, still under the crown of the British monarchy. Connolly's analysis was again proven correct; the partition of Ireland created the "carnival of reaction" he had predicted, and in the Free State, "raising the green flag over Dublin Castle," but failing to overthrow capitalism, Britain continued to control Ireland's destiny, through its financial holdings and the reliance of Ireland's weak, comprador, native capitalists on their stronger counterparts in Britain.

Independence failed to resolve not only the class conflicts within Irish society, but divisions within the ranks of the bourgeois nationalists as well. The result was civil war, the hostilities of which broke out in July 1922, when the Free State forces bombed the republican headquarters in Dublin. The Civil War ended in 1923 with the defeat of the republicans, resulting in over 11,000 IRA members being imprisoned by the Free State. Britain wasted no time in coming to the aid of its former enemies now constituting the Irish Free State, supplying military assistance in the struggle to put down the IRA resistance.

Republicans and Workers in the Irish Free State

Largely decapitated by the losses during the national revolution, and now manipulated by nationalist rhetoric, the Irish proletariat's thrust was greatly blunted in the Free State. Revolutionaries in the Irish Labour Party split to form a Communist party, under the leadership of the great labor leader Jim Larkin, recently deported from the United States for revolutionary action there. This split left the Labour Party firmly in the hands of reformists, as occurred throughout the socialist movement internationally, while the Communists struggled against an onslaught from the State, the Church, and the capitalist class, including bourgeois republicans, who derided the class struggle as a diversion from the national liberation campaign.

While a respected and charismatic leader, Larkin lacked Connolly's organization skills, and the Communist movement lurched from action to action without forging a movement capable of harnessing working class discontent into a unified force. In addition, Larkin, influenced by syndicalism and identifying with Left-wing Communism, broke with the Comintern's Russian leadership-as did Left Communists elsewhere-and in doing so, with the Irish Communist Party as well; forging an independent Communist organization which remained active through the 1940s, but divided the already small movement.

In the occupied six counties of Ireland, in 1922, the parliament of "Northern Ireland" enacted the Civil Authorities Act, better known as the Special Powers Act. The law gave the Minister for Home Affairs the power to arrest without warrant and intern without trial, prohibit coroners' inquests, flog, execute, requisition land or property, ban organizations and prohibit meetings, publications, etc. The Act was renewed every year until 1933, when it became permanent. So sweeping were the powers of repression contained in the Special Powers Act, the Apartheid government of South Africa consciously used it as a model for their own law, and it served as an inspiration for Zionist laws of repression aimed at Palestinians as well.

In 1926, IRA leader and past-President of Dáil Eireann during the revolution, Eamon de Valera, broke with the IRA and Sinn Féin, forming a new political party, Fianna Fáil. Fianna Fáil represented the interests of the urban petite bourgeois and the rural small landholders, which differed sharply from the comprador capitalists who formed the initial ruling class of the Irish Free State. This broader social base and de Valera's association with militant republicanism during the revolution and Civil War, enabled his new party to sweep to power, with de Valera being elected to the post of Taoiseach (Prime Minister). Nationalist rhetoric and symbols have continued to enable Fianna Fáil to bind a large section of the Irish working class to its reactionary, clerical dominated program, by focusing on a feigned interest in the national question, much as reactionary Loyalist parties in the occupied North maintain the allegiance of Protestant workers through religious sectarianism.

While control of the Free State shifted from the comprador bourgeoisie to petite bourgeoisie, the IRA was left increasingly to the working class, and a radical current within the movement continued to fight for a revolutionary social program. This current ebbed and flowed, sometimes gaining control over movement publications and internal sections, and becoming largely dominant in the mid-1930s. In 1931, socialist elements within the IRA founded Saor Eire, seeking the overthrow of "British Imperialism and its ally capitalism" in Ireland, but the organization collapsed in the face of a government ban and Catholic Church denunciation. In 1934, the initiative was provided by many of the same IRA radicals to forge a mass social movement "to break," in the words of founder George Gilmore, "the illusion that Fianna Fáil leadership was leading toward their freedom in Ireland." This new organization, dubbed the Republican Congress, sought to join republican radicals, trade union activists, socialists and other progressives into a united body. Though initiative had come from within the IRA, the proposal by Gilmore was turned down by the Army Council, forcing him to resign from the IRA in order to carry on with the formation. Frank Ryan and Peadar O'Donnell, co-editors of An Phoblacht, the IRA's newspaper, were expelled from the Army Council the same year for helping to form the Republican Congress over the Council's orders. The Congress made an impressive start, even bringing working class activists from the Loyalist stronghold of Belfast's Shankhill Road to the annual republican Bodenstown commemoration, in 1934, bearing a banner reading "Wolfe Tone Commemoration 1934, Shankhill Road Belfast Branch. Break the connection with Capitalism." The promise was short-lived, however, and almost immediately the Congress split and declined. Ultimately, the turn to reformism within the trade union movement and the failure to break the illusion of Fianna Fáil's commitment to "the Republic" among Ireland's masses led to the collapse of the Republican Congress. A shifting focus to the emerging threat of Fascism in Spain by socialists, and the cunning of de Valera in drafting a new constitution in 1937, which proclaimed the Irish nation was "the whole island of Ireland, its islands and the territorial seas," without taking any action to actually regain the occupied six counties, contributed to derailing the revolutionary movement in Ireland for years to come. The departure of militants from the Army Council left the IRA more firmly in the control of conservative elements, while the failure of the Republican Congress to seize the initiative provided by the international economic depression and resulting rank-and-file militancy of Irish workers, forced the revolutionary current of republican socialism into retreat once again.

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by Caitlin Hines

The Civil War to World War II

The left current in Irish republican politics asserted itself sporadically but persistently throughout the '20s and '30s, in such groupings as Cómhairle na Poblachta (1929), the Worker's Revolutionary Party (1930), Saor Eire (1931), and the Republican Congress (1932) under the leadership of Peadar O'Donnell. Irish socialists joined with their comrades from many nations in the International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War: some 145 volunteers, mostly trade unionists and IRA members, formed the Connolly Column, fighting alongside the Abraham Lincoln Brigade against the Fascist forces of Generalissimo Franco. However, none of these groupings drew large numbers from the rank and file until 1946, when Clan na Poblachta was formed by Seán MacBride (who had been the IRA Chief of Staff in 1936 and would later found Amnesty International, for which he would receive the Nobel and Lenin Peace Prizes). The "success" of Clan na Poblachta led to the expulsion of their members from the IRA after the party won ten seats in the 1948 Irish election and promptly entered into a coalition government with the conservative Fine Gael party. This "selling out" by the highly respected MacBride (son of the patriots John and Maud Gonne MacBride) was one of several incidents which left a deep distrust of the corrupting influence of electoral politics, shaping attitudes about abstentionism to this day. The Irish government earned the further scorn of republicans by its craven acquiescence to British demands during World War II, when, despite having declared itself officially neutral, Ireland allowed Britain to use Irish airspace and coastal waters with impunity, and held republicans and communists in internment camps at Churchill's request. Documents recently declassified show that during WWII Churchill had drawn up detailed plans for a military occupation of Dublin and other port cities if needed for national security-an invasion that was called off when it became clear that Britain could still rule all of Ireland efficiently through a combination of neo-colonialism in the South and direct occupation in the North. In 1949, the Irish Free State government proclaimed Ireland a sovereign republic, nominally cutting ties with the British Commonwealth-a symbolic move which did nothing to address the demands of the Republicans or to improve the day-to-day conditions of the Irish people, North or South.

Although the 1937 "Free State" Constitution had enshrined both the "special position of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church" and the subjugation of women:

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Article 41.2 In particular, the State recognizes that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved. The State shall, therefore, endeavor to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home, the Republican Movement had since the Civil War ignored such glaring social injustices and instead been preoccupied with abstract issues such as the illegitimacy of both governments in Ireland. After World War II, the mainstream "republican" party, Fianna Fáil, invited in multi-national corporations to the South on a massive scale, providing the most generous tax incentives in the entire world to attract companies to exploit the novelty of an Irish industrial working class. It was not until the 1950s, that the section of the Irish populace engaged in agriculture ceased to be a majority of the Irish Free State's population. This solidified Ireland's emerging status as a Third World nation, a cheap source of European, English-speaking labor (Ireland has the lowest wage levels in Europe, about 1/3 of Belgian manufacturing wages, for example).

The Border Campaign To Civil Rights

In the early 1950s, the IRA and Sinn Féin were in a lull. The British annexation of the North was virtually ignored until the poorly-planned and executed "border campaign" (1956-62), an unpopular bombing campaign which only served to deepen the rift between the Republican Movement and the masses it was attempting to mobilize. It was clear to some in the leadership that the IRA was becoming irrelevant, and intense internal political education was undertaken, especially in the prisons, to assess where things had gone wrong and how best to move forward. This "new direction" was articulated by a leading member of the Army Council of the IRA, Seamus Costello, at the annual Bodenstown [Wolfe Tone] commemoration in 1966:

We believe that there should be a limit to the amount of land owned by any single individual. We also believe that the large estates of absentee landlords should be acquired by compulsory acquisition and worked on a co-operative basis with the financial and technical assistance of the State.

In the field of industry, our policy is to nationalise the key industries with the eventual aim of co-operative ownership by the workers. The capital necessary...can be made available without recourse to extensive taxation by the nationalisation of all banks, insurance, loan and investment companies whose present policy is the re-investment of our hard earned money in foreign fields.

This was no empty rhetoric; the Movement's actions complemented this policy shift, with an increased emphasis on social and community campaigns, such as the Civil Rights movement, and broader participation in electoral politics at the local level. The IRA went so far as to sell the majority of its weapons to the then active, Free Wales Army.

The first sectarian killings of the current phase of the Irish struggle also came in 1966, when the Loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force of Augustus "Gusty" Spence gunned down four Catholics at random. This took place amid a background of increasing frustration for the Nationalist community, who were faced with a host of social problems. The post-war Labour government in Britain had sown the seeds of discontent by opening the doors of higher education to the masses, and expanding social services to create the modern welfare state; the first generation of Nationalists to graduate from college were confronting the harsh realities of discrimination in housing and employment once they left the university. Acts of violence against the Catholic minority fueled their increasing resentment over inadequate living conditions, and in 1968 the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) was formed, consciously modelled after the US Civil Rights movement and inspired by the student rebellion in Paris in May and the Prague Spring. NICRA's demands seem astonishingly modest in retrospect: their rallying cry was "One Man, One Vote," since votes in Northern Ireland were based on property, and one way of perpetuating the subjugation of Catholics was to disenfranchise them by denying them housing. Entire families often had to live in one room for years, awaiting a housing allocation, while their wealthy landlord received up to six votes. Miserable living conditions and pervasive discrimination in employment had the additional benefit of encouraging Catholic emigration, which consistently outpaced that of Protestants, ensuring that the population breakdown remained constant despite the 40% higher Catholic birthrate. NICRA's demands were modest, but it is a testament to the fundamental instability of the Northern Irish State that even these demands could not be met; instead, NICRA marches, such as the long march from Belfast to Derry over New Year's 1968 (patterned after the Selma to Montgomery, Alabama march), were met with police batons and water cannons, as well as vicious attacks by Loyalist mobs using nail-studded cudgels-all of which was shown on British TV. In the South, the Free State Army was activated in response to renewed anti-Catholic pogroms in Belfast, which had erupted in August, 1969, when over 500 Nationalist homes were burned out by Loyalist mobs. Refugee centers were set up on the southern side of the border. The response of Harold Wilson's Labour government in Britain was to send in the Army: 8,000 troops, complete with armored personnel carriers and helicopters-a tacit declaration of war. Amidst this almost palpable tension, a rift which had been forming within Sinn Féin and the IRA widened, and in 1969/70 there was an open split over the issue of abstentionism-whether or not to take seats in an "illegitimate" Parliament, be it London or Dublin.

The Provisional Split

The hard-line abstentionist minority, under the leadership of Seán MacStiofain, split from what became known as "the Officials," forming the Provisional Republican Movement: Provisional Sinn Féin and the Provisional IRA ("the Provos"). The split was over tactics and principles, and, while more complex than a simple Right/Left division, this is a large part of the story; the Provos were more conservative and generally more traditional, heavily influenced by Catholicism, with some elements veering towards a streak of anti-Communist paranoia. The Provos began as pure nationalists, placing a greater emphasis on military action than on political theory (a typical popular slogan was "Ireland-United, Gaelic, and Free"). In contrast, the Officials, led by IRA Chief of Staff Cathal Goulding, were far more radical ideologically, calling for a class war to achieve the socialist republic, but were increasingly frustrated in their attempts to translate their politics into action.

The split took place at a time when "IRA" was cynically said to stand for "I Ran Away"; the first bombs of the current conflict had been set off not by the IRA but by Loyalists in the spring of 1969, and the armed occupation of the North of Ireland by British troops had begun in August. The Nationalist community had at first welcomed the soldiers, imagining them as their protectors against Loyalist thugs, but by the summer of 1970, the Army's true role as an occupation force was clear, although it was not until February 1971 that the first British soldier in the current conflict was killed. The renewal of armed resistance was both a product of and a response to the military occupation: the Civil Rights movement had waged the Battle of the Bogside and defended what became known as Free Derry without the help of the IRA, and one of its leaders, Bernadette Devlin of People's Democracy, had even been elected to the British Parliament (at 21, the youngest MP ever elected), but the struggle demanded an army. The Provos and the Officials both maintained units in the field, as each sought to fill that need.

Internment and Bloody Sunday

On August 9, 1971, the British government conducted mass sweeps of suspected "terrorists," and interned over 300 people without charges or trial (ironically, most PIRA and OIRA members eluded arrest because of intelligence warnings). The only Protestant interned was Ronnie Bunting, a republican socialist (and son of Major Bunting, the Reverend Ian Paisley's right-hand man). Internment only served to inflame the Nationalist people and fuel their support for a military campaign, and six months later, on January 30, 1972, Britain cemented Irish resistance by its callous act of murder on "Bloody Sunday," when paratroopers opened fire on a peaceful civil rights march, killing 13. In the South, a national day of mourning was declared-and the British Embassy in Dublin was burnt down. Two months later, Amnesty International found the British government guilty of "cruel and inhumane treatment" of prisoners, and the naked face of British colonialism was fully exposed. After Bloody Sunday, which was shown on TV throughout the world, it was difficult to pretend that there wasn't a war going on in Northern Ireland, and it was blatantly obvious that peaceful, non-violent demonstrations would be met with bullets. British troop strength had reached 21,000-almost equivalent, in proportion to the population, to US troop strength in Vietnam at the time. Armed struggle seemed the only option open to the Nationalist people, and "No Go" areas were set up in Northern cities, with the support of both wings of the IRA. The middle ground was fast disappearing for Loyalists as well; the Northern Ireland government at Stormont had collapsed, and Britain assumed direct rule of the province for the first time. In September, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) was formed, joining other Loyalist terror groups in carrying out random sectarian murders of Catholics. Two to three times as many Catholics as Protestants were killed throughout 1972, the bloodiest year of the war; it was later learned that some of the killings ascribed to the IRA were actually committed by agents of the British forces, in an attempt to discredit the IRA. Any criticism the Irish government might have been tempted to raise was stifled by the need for British support of Irish entry into the European Common Market, as Britain's economic rule once again dictated Irish politics.

The European Community

In 1972, Ireland and Britain joined the European Economic Community. Though the effects of this action were not immediately recognizable, over the course of time the traditional relations between the two countries would be altered significantly. British policy was now subject to review by the European Court of Human Rights, while Irish clerical domination and its resulting social legislation, would be held to an EC-wide standard. European capital from the Continent began to play an increasingly important role in both the six and twenty-six county statelets, displacing the dominance of Britain, which had already given way to a great extent to the multinationals of the United States in the South. Irish farming, still a vital economic sector, despite being in decline since World War II, would greatly suffer from European competition. While some mining of ores continued, every smelting plant in Ireland would eventually close its doors, as competition from the continent rendered them all economically unviable. Irish fishermen too would face competition from the well-outfitted fishing fleets of other European nations. Ireland would increasingly look to Europe for grants and investment, especially for the development of the nation's infrastructure-quietly backing away from its tradition of neutrality and its claim of sovereignty "over the entire island of Ireland," in exchange for improved motorways and housing subsidies.

Special Legislation

The war in the North dragged on, showing no signs of dying out. Britain, unable to achieve a military victory, sought to redefine the nature of the conflict by denying that a state of war existed. A series of repressive legal tactics were enacted, such as the Emergency Powers Act of 1973, which

  • permits non-jury trials (the infamous "Diplock" courts, which have a 93% conviction rate);

  • permits written confessions obtained through interrogation using "a moderate amount of physical force," without corroborating evidence (80% of the convictions are based solely on these "confessions");

  • shifts the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defense-one is presumed guilty until proved otherwise;

  • permits the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), the over-whelmingly Protestant police force of the North, to arrest without warrant and hold a suspect for up to 72 hours;

  • permits a house or building to be searched without warrant, and the confiscation of any items therein.

    Together, these sweeping powers-unique in Western Europe-allow the occupation forces virtual carte blanche in suppressing resistance. In 1974, this was expanded to the British mainland with the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which allows for indefinite internal deportation of suspected "terrorists." Only Chile, Indonesia, and Britain have the legal power to enforce indefinite internal exile, although the PTA's main use has been as a tool of harassment, with over 5,000 persons detained and only 50 charged under the Act. The PTA, allegedly a "response" to bombings by the IRA, is really a convenient catch-all legal means to oppress anyone whose politics the Government dislikes. Recently, it has been revealed that British intelligence agents provocateurs were behind some of the more spectacular actions for which the IRA had been blamed in the early 1970s. A dozen innocent Irish men and women who had been jailed for up to 16 years were finally released in the early 1990s (including the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four), to the great embarrassment of the British Government, which had held them on the basis of dubious evidence, including "confessions" obtained under torture, for crimes which sources suggest the British intelligence services themselves carried out. As a direct result of these (contrived) bombings, supposedly demonstrating an utter disregard for civilian casualties, the draconian PTA was easily passed by a shocked Labour government.

    The Officals' Cease-fire

    In 1972 the Officials declared a cease-fire, following a series of unpopular actions, such as the assassination of an Irish Catholic member of the British Army, Ranger Best, who was home on leave in Derry from duty with Britain's Army of the Rhine. In response to criticism of Best's killing, the OIRA had stated:

    We are not a Catholic organisation...If there is anyone who has been giving us support in the belief that we are some sort of militant, Catholic, nationalist organisation, then let them withdraw their support now. We are nothing of the sort. We are out to build a revolutionary socialist party of the Irish working class.

    Nine days after this defiant statement, the OIRA declared an indefinite cease-fire. This led to bitter accusations of betrayal on both sides; the Provos continued the struggle in arms (following a brief "bilateral truce" and high-level negotiations in London), but remained politically conservative; the Officials refined their political line, but laid down arms. These contradictions would prove untenable, setting the stage for the Republican Socialist movement.

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    by Erin Clarke and Peter Urban


    The Officals/IRSP Split

    The period of the 1970s was a turbulent time for the struggle in Ireland, highlighted by more splits within the republican movement and internal feuding; a great upsurge in Loyalist sectarian violence in the North; and the development of the prison struggle culminating in the 1981 hunger strike, which focussed worldwide attention on Ireland, the republican struggle and the plight of Irish prisoners.

    In 1972, the Official IRA had declared an indefinite, unilateral cease-fire. Official Sinn Féin leader, Tomás MacGiolla felt that the movement needed to move away from the armed struggle and instead focus on working class unity between Protestant and Catholic workers in the North; believing that these groups would eventually see a common purpose and rise together against British imperialism. Opponents to this position in the OIRA argued, at the 1973 Ard Fheis (national party congress), that this position was unrealistic considering the 400 years of sectarian intransigence in the North, and that instead the armed struggle must be maintained and channelled into a socialist direction.

    The dominant section of the Officials' leadership was unprepared to allow dissent on the issue, however, and were willing to go to any length to suppress it. Recent revelations have shown that well before the shooting of Ranger Best, which was used to justify a cease-fire, MacGiolla's faction was preparing to end the armed struggle and to crush any opposition to this policy. One of the most popular figures in the OIRA, Joe McCann, had begun dialogue with others opposed to ending the armed struggle within the Officials in mid-1971, and had been stockpiling arms in preparation for a split should this policy be enacted. McCann's wide-spread respect and popularity made his opposition a serious threat to the plans of the MacGiolla faction, and it now seems clear that they cooperated with the British occupation forces to enable his assassination in March 1972. The rage over the assassination of McCann by British soldiers actually forced a the cease-fire to be postponed, when it unleashed a renewed burst of armed actions by OIRA volunteers, until the popular opposition to the Best killing provided a new opportunity to act on the plans.

    Following the cease-fire, sporadic action by OIRA volunteers continued, despite official policy, and an opposition was mounted within both the OIRA and Official Sinn Féin. Seamus Costello, who was then Vice President of Official Sinn Féin and Director of Operations of the OIRA, emerged as the primary leader of those opposed to the cease-fire and the new political direction of the movement. In response, he was stripped of both positions and internal democracy was restricted through a series of bureaucratic machinations to isolate those in opposition. Costello continued an internal campaign to reverse the movement's direction, however, which continued up to the 1974 Ard Fheis. When Costello and many of those aligned with him were denied access to the Ard Fheis where they hoped to present their case to the movement, the possibility of internal change seemed useless any longer.

    Finally, on December 10, 1974, led by Costello, the opposition held its own Ard Fheis to declare the formation of the Irish Republican Socialist Party and, at a separate Ard Fheis later that day, founded the Irish National Liberation Army. Almost immediately upon its formation, the Irish Republican Socialist Movement came under attack. The Officials, despite their claims to have laid down arms, showed no hesitation in using military force to show their opposition to the new republican grouping. In February 1975, Hugh Ferguson became the first IRSP martyr to sectarian attack by the OIRA. With hostility towards the OIRA still lingering from the 1969-70 split in the Republican Movement, and many former OIRA volunteers disgusted by the attacks on those so recently their comrades, the infant INLA was joined by the Provos and ex-volunteers of the Officials in defending the new movement. The Provisionals declared they had joined in the fight against the Officials to "eliminate the criminal elements masquerading themselves as republicans." This assortment of volunteers came together briefly under the name of the Peoples Liberation Army to defend the IRSM from the attacks, but the Provisional/Official aspect of the feud soon came to a halt when the president of the Falls Road Taxi Association was killed and community pressure demanded an end to the fighting. The OIRA's open campaign against the IRSM was brought to a halt as well, though bitterness and bloodshed would continue sporadically between the two groups for several years to come. In 1977, IRSP leader Seamus Costello was shot dead in Dublin by OIRA gunmen, and the long war between the two groups finally ended in 1983, when the INLA killed the OIRA assassin of Costello. Though INLA volunteers were active in the ranks of the PLA, it was not until 1976 that the INLA carried out its first offensive action under its own banner.

    The formation of the IRSP was an important step in the development of the political definitions in the republican struggle. By emphasizing armed struggle accompanied by a commitment to the construction of socialism, the IRSP highlighted the inability of the Provisionals to bring a solid political definition to its struggle. The federalist plan laid out in the Provisional guidebook "Eire Nua" (New Ireland), which was presented as the Provisionals' social/political program, was described by IRSP leader Seamus Costello as a "blueprint for small scale capitalism" and "more of the same politics." At the same time, the IRSP argued that a purely political course, unaccompanied by armed struggle, would lead to reformism; and indeed that was the destination that the Official's movement arrived at after its cease-fire and the 1974 split prompted by the supression of militants within its ranks.

    Whereas the Provisionals saw national liberation as a primary objective to be achieved before any social program could be addressed, and the Officials argued social revolution was an essential step before national unification could be considerred, the IRSM returned to the analysis put forward by Connolly, that the struggles for Irish national liberation and for the liberation of the Irish proletarian were inseparable. The IRSM put forward the position that the national liberation struggle was not a step to be climbed before social revolution could be called for, but was simply an aspect of the fight for socialism in Ireland; an essential Irish manifestation of the class war.

    With the formation of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement, the republican forces settled into three groupings. The Officials, increasingly marginalized in the North, concentrated on electoral politics and building their influence in the trade union movement, eventually changing their name to Sinn Féin the Workers' Party, then simply to the Workers' Party. They became increasingly hostile to the ongoing national liberation struggle, denouncing both the IRA and INLA as "terrorists," and adopting the so-called "two nation theory" regarding the North, which placed them in opposition to the reunification of Ireland. Politically, they moved towards an alignment with the Soviet Union, often out-stripping the Communist Party of Ireland in this regard. The advent of the IRSM served to pressure the Provisionals to place greater emphasis on their political program, by highlighting the inadequacies of "Eire Nua," such as labelling the call for a federal structure based on Ireland's traditional four provinces as little more than an accommodation to Loyalist fears of losing control in their six county remnant of Ulster, or exposing its plan for resolution of the land issue by "collective farms based on the family unit" as nothing more than an attempt to portray the traditional family farm as an advance towards socialism. Indeed, over the course of the two decades following the IRSP/INLA's formation, Provisional Sinn Féin has been forced to develop its political program, and its role as a political party, to an extent almost unimaginable in the early 1970s. Through the mere acts of formation and survival, the IRSM challenged both the Officials' dominance in the field of Irish socialism and the Provisionals' monopoly in armed struggle against the British occupation forces. In doing so, it brought about, or at least quickened the pace of, the transformation of both other republican movements.

    Loyalist Opposition and Terror

    The year 1974 not only marked the division of the republican forces into three distinct movements, but gave new definition to Loyalism in the occupied six counties. On January 1, 1974 Britain's first Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, William Whitelaw, brought together representatives from the moderate Unionist parties, the Alliance Party and the Social Democratic and Labour Party into a powersharing executive. In addition, Whitelaw established a "Council of Ireland," which would provide the Dublin government with a consultive, though powerless, role in matters of concern to both parts of Ireland. The Loyalists were outraged at the prospect of sharing power with "disloyal" representatives of the nationalist community, as well as at the idea of Dublin having even a consultive role in "their" affairs. The anti-powersharing Loyalists joined in coalition as the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC), winning 11 out of 12 seats in the general election held in February 1974. The UUUC electoral victory, however, was not sufficient to bring down the powersharing executive, but their success at the polls lent an air of legitimacy to the strike in May 1974 of the Ulster Workers' Council (UWC). The industrial action of the UWC, backed by intimidation and violence from the UDA, UVF, and other Loyalist paramilitaries allied under the umbrella organization Ulster Army Council, shut down much of the Six Counties' economic activity. The real strength of the UWC strike was their control of the electricity-generating industry. With virtually the entire blue-collar workforce on strike, and the remaining white-collar staff either intimidated by Loyalist paramilitaries, or in sympathy with the strike, power outages became longer and longer until the Unionist members of the powersharing executive resigned and the executive collapsed. The UWC strike provided an excellent demonstration of the ability of the working class to bring a system to its knees through their collective effort, while also providing a chilling glimpse of the reactionary ideology deeply rooted in the Loyalist section of Ireland's workers.

    Another aspect of what proved to be a very bloody period in Irish history was the increase in sectarian violence coming from Loyalist paramilitaries in the North. During the UWC strike, car bombs attributed to Loyalist paramilitaries were exploded in Dublin and Monaghan in the South of Ireland, killing 27 people (though recently revealed documents have suggested that the MI6 British intelligence forces may have actually been responsible for the bombings). The Ulster Defense Regiment was formed in 1970 as a "home guard" branch of the British Army. Very soon after its formation, it became a well known fact that many members of the UDR used their position of association with the British Army, and their access to weapons and ammunition, as well as intelligence files, to participate in sectarian murders of Irish Catholics in the occupied Six Counties. Many members of the UDR were also members of Loyalist death squads, such as the Ulster Volunteer Force or the Ulster Freedom Fighters. In a period of nine months (January to September 1975) 196 civilians were murdered in sectarian violence, in addition to many republican deaths. The most heinous of these sectarian killers, such as James McIlwaine, the so-called "Shankhill Butcher" who tortured and killed 19 Catholics with a butcher knife, were convicted by the British government, who could not completely turn their head to such rampant sectarian viciousness; but McIlwaine's membership in the UDR was telling of the relationship between the British Army and these Loyalist killers. As defenders of the nationalist communities, the IRA and INLA were forced to respond to these sectarian murders, assassinating members of the Loyalist paramilitaries, which often prompted further "tit for tat" actions by the Loyalist death squads.

    In March 1975, the Loyalist paramilitaries had their own internal struggle, when a feud erupted between the UDA and the UVF. The feud was short-lived and resulted in few deaths. Later that same year, the UVF was legally banned, after a UVF bombing claimed 11 lives in October. Relations began to deteriorate between the RUC and the Loyalists, resulting in Loyalist communities with strong ties to the paramilitaries beginning the practice of policing their own neighborhoods rather than relying on the RUC.

    In addition to their primary roles as offensive forces against British occupation, the IRA and INLA serve both as defensive forces within the nationalist communities against Loyalist killers and as a police force. Though both groups made plain their reluctance to play the latter role, the inability of Irish nationalists to turn to the hostile Royal Ulster Constabulary to maintain civil order, and the use of criminal elements in the nationalist community by the Army and RUC as intelligence sources in exchange for turning a blind-eye to their criminal exploits, rendered residents of the Catholic ghettoes at the mercy of gangsters and thugs. As a result, the communities demanded the IRA and INLA take on this responsibility from time to time, though the resulting publicity arising from punishment shootings of anti-social elements provides a great source for the black propaganda mills of the British intelligence services.

    The Peace People

    In August 1976, British soldiers shot IRA member Danny Lennon while he was driving a car, the car crashed into Ann Maguire and her children, three of whom died. That evening, Betty Williams, a woman from the Protestant community, went on television shown throughout the Six Counties to plead for an end to the ongoing killing. Ann Maguire's sister, Mairead Corrigan, heard the broadcast and contacted Williams. The two founded the Community of the Peace People. The group immediately received massive media coverage and grew rapidly. In its first five months, the organization sponsored over fifty marches in the North and South of Ireland, as well as in Britain. Local chapters popped up throughout Ireland, many undertaking worthwhile efforts to build community centers or create local job growth. In 1977 the two founders were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but when they kept the associated monetary award for themselves personally, many began to question their motives. The campaign also faltered when it appeared to be far more critical of the actions of paramilitaries, especially those waging the national liberation struggle, than of the occupation forces. Among Loyalists, Community of the Peace People chapters exclusively leveled their criticism at the IRA and INLA, while the movement failed to condemn the violence of the British Army. When the organization openly called on Catholics to inform on members of the liberation forces, it lost what credibility it had retained, and invited charges that they were supported by the British government and intelligence services. At the beginning of 1980, Ann Maguire committed suicide and three weeks later Betty Williams resigned from the group for "personal reasons." The organization quickly collapsed into a mere shadow of what it had once been, as the reality of injustice maintained through British occupation made peace unattainable. For a brief period, however, the Peace People, unwittingly or by design, provided assistance to the "normalization" effort of the British imperialists.

    Perhaps in response to the Peace People's campaign, 1977 proved to have the lowest incidents of violence since 1971, with only 112 killed as a result of the war. Britain used this lull to begin a process of "Ulsterization," phasing in the RUC and UDR to carry out activities previously done by the British Army. Ulsterization, with normalization and criminalization (which will be examined below), were interlocking strategies to undermine the national liberation struggle, and improve Britain's international image, severely sullied by their policy of internment, charges of torture, and televised images of the Army on the streets of the Six Counties. The British government also stepped up its intelligence gathering network in the occupied Six Counties, announcing in 1977 that it would computerize information on the residents of the North. Through the computer database, the police and army had access to vast amounts of personal information on virtually all nationalist residents. In 1980 the Army went even farther in eroding the privacy of Six County residents by installing closed-circuit television cameras in the streets of nationalist neighborhoods in Belfast and Derry.

    The Prison Struggle

    One way that the Republican and Republican Socialist movements were able to revive the mass movement and rebuild morale was to focus on the struggle in the prisons. Before 1976 republican prisoners had what was called "special category status," allowing them to be treated as prisoners of war, and providing them with privileges of POWs such as those specified in the Geneva Convention. Special category status had been won through a long hunger strike in 1971 by republican prisoners in Crumlin Road Jail and included:

    1. The right to wear their own clothes;
    2. The right to abstain from penal labor;
    3. The right to free association;
    4. The right to educational activities; and
    5. The restoration of remission.

    In 1975, the British government began phasing out this status, declaring that anyone convicted after March 1, 1976 was to be treated as a common criminal-an ODC, or "Ordinary Decent Criminal," in the bizarre nomenclature of the British. This move was part of the British government's plan to "criminalize" the republican struggle, and was consistent with their constant claim that there was no actual "war" in the North. Combined with special legislation, the juryless Diplock courts, criminalization became part of Britain's plan to smash the national liberation struggle by putting most of its members behind bars.

    In opposition, relatives and supporters of the prisoners formed the Relatives' Action Committees to protest criminalisation, while the INLA and IRA promised retaliation, but the strongest protest came from inside the prisons. On September 15, 1976, IRA volunteer Ciarán Nugent refused to put on his prison uniform in symbolic protest against being treated like a convicted criminal. Wrapped in a prison blanket and confined to his cell 24 hours a day, Nugent became the first of what were to become known as the "Blanket Men." He was soon joined by nearly 200 other IRA and INLA prisoners in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh, and on March 11, 1979, the republican women in Armagh Prison joined the blanket protest as well. By March 1979, a quarter to a third of all sentenced Republican and Republican Socialist prisoners had joined the blanket protest. Mothers and sisters of prisoners in the Relatives' Action Committees organized marches, or demonstrated by sitting out in public areas-sometimes in driving rain and bitter cold-clad only in blankets themselves.

    Prison guards tried to halt the protest by beating the Blanket Men when they went to shower or use the toilets. In March 1978, the prisoners responded by refusing to leave their cells, no longer washing and using buckets as toilets. The guards then stopped bringing buckets to the cells, and when the prisoners took to emptying them out their barred windows, the government had the windows bricked shut. With no other option left, the prisoners were forced to smear their own excrement on the walls of their cells. This phase of the struggle became known as the "Dirty Protest"; these prisoners, Republican and Republican Socialist, men and women, protested their criminalization by remaining naked in their cells, refused the most basic privileges, being forced to live unwashed among their own excreta. This struggle by the prisoners became the primary focus of republicans as the 1970s drew to a close.

    The Relatives' Action Committee's campaign soon drew broad-based support and what had began as a struggle waged within the isolation of the jails, by the prisoners themselves, was swelling into a mass movement. On October 21, 1979, the National H-Block/Armagh Committee was established at a conference held in the Andersontown area of Belfast. The new organization swiftly grew into a mass organization, which attracted the support of the IRSP, People's Democracy, Sinn Féin, Trade Unionists, and independent activists of various political stripes in the campaign previously waged almost exclusively by the prisoners' families. Despite the participation of many of its rank-and-file members, Sinn Féin initially remained somewhat aloof from the growing movement at an organizational level, until the H-Block/Armagh struggle had gained such widespread support that to remain outside it threatened to eclipse their dominance on the Irish republican political landscape.

    The men in the H-Blocks had been considering the possibility of a hunger strike for two years when talks began in February 1980 with Humphrey Atkins, then Northern Ireland Secretary of State, at the urging of Cardinal Tomás O'Fiaich, to end the prisoners' protest. When autumn arrived, however, Britain had offered no concessions whatsoever. The prisoners prepared to take whatever steps were necessary to win the five demands they had raised:

    1. The right to wear their own clothes;
    2. The right to refuse penal labor;
    3. The right to free association;
    4. Full 50% remission of their sentences; and
    5. Normal visits, parcels, educational and recreational facilities.

    Knowing that the only means to avert a hunger strike was to force Britain to concede the prisoners demands, the activists of the National H-Block Armagh Committee waged a tireless struggle to increase the political pressure on Britain to relent. They gained greater success in mobilizing protests, drawing the attention of the world media to the prisoners fight, and thereby to the nature of Britain's occupation of the Six Counties and the reality of the national liberation struggle opposing it. Exposure of the British occupation, and its repression of the Nationalist community, before the eyes of the world began to erode Britain's international image, while drawing sympathy for the plight of the Nationalists people and greater understanding of the war they were waging. As successes mounted for the H-Block/Armagh Committee, it was clear that it was only a matter of time before Britain and their snarling Loyalist attack dogs responded. In June 1980, Loyalist death squads assassinated Miriam Daly, Chairperson of the IRSP and the national head of the H-Block/Armagh Committee, as well as another Committee leader, John Turnley, head of the Irish Independence Party. In October, Loyalist assassins struck again, murdering another of the Committee's national leadership, IRSP member Ronnie Bunting, as well as IRSP member Noel Lyttle who was staying in the house, and leaving for dead Bunting's wife and comrade Suzanne, who was shot in front of her young daughter, but survived. Finally in December, Loyalists struck against another of the Committee's national leadership with the attempted murder independent socialist Bernadette Devlin McAlisky, which she barely survived, leaving her and her husband Michael both seriously wounded. That the Loyalist attack on McAlisky was able to take place while British soldiers were posted virtually accross the street from her home testified to the blood on Britain's hands in the Loyalist violence.

    The 1980 Hunger Strike

    To attain their five demands, which fundamentally reinstated special category status, the prisoners in the H-Blocks prepared to begin a hunger strike, but on October 23, 1980, the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) announced that the men would be permitted to wear civilian clothes (the women in Armagh had never lost this right, but had joined the protest to demonstrate their solidarity). Later that day however, Cardinal O'Fiaich learned that the concession was a sham, the clothes intended were to be prison-issue civilian clothes, simply exchanging one uniform with another. Outraged over Britain's attempt to deceive them, seven prisoners embarked on a hunger strike. IRA prisoners Brendan Hughes, Tom McFeeley, Seán McKenna, Leo Green, Tommy McKearney and Raymond McCartney, and INLA prisoner John Nixon were the first to begin the hunger strike. Both the IRSP and Sinn Féin were opposed to the hunger strike, believing it to be too dangerous a form of protest. They had believed that a broad front protest was the only way to focus world-wide attention on the prison struggle and embarrass England into renewing political status, thereby ending the protest. Despite the H-Block/Armagh Committees having been able to focus international attention on the prisons, the British remained unrelenting, and the prisoners decided, over the objections of their movements outside, that hunger strike could no longer be delayed, as no other option seemed available to them.

    An NIO official came to Long Kesh to talk with the hungerstrikers, as the protest reached its 40th day, 30 additional IRA and INLA prisoners joined the hunger strike to put additional pressure on the British government. Three women prisoners in Armagh Jail had already joined the month before. On the 48th day of hunger strike, Seán McKenna went blind. McKenna's condition was deteriorating rapidly, and it was reported that two others were also weakening. Finally, on December 18, Bobby Sands, Officer in Command (OC) of the Provisional prisoners, announced that the hunger strike was over, the British had agreed to concessions. All protesting prisoners ended their fasts before any had died. Almost immediately, however, England denied having made any agreement, and the prisoners discovered they had again been the victims of British duplicity.

    The 1981 Hunger Strike

    Sinn Féin and the IRA, as well as the IRSP and INLA, were now more opposed to use of the hunger strike than before. The suffering of the men and women prisoners had accomplished nothing, and they fully realized that another hunger strike could not avoid ending in the deaths. Despite this, the INLA prisoners began immediately to talk of resuming the hunger strike rather than accept defeat through Britain's dishonest dealings. Though the IRA prisoners' leadership remained opposed to a renewed hunger strike at the time, already in early January, the INLA prisoners made plain their intentions of doing so. The INLA prisoners' OC, Patsy O'Hara vowed that the prisoners under his command would resume the hunger strike, with or without the IRA prisoners. To avoid the INLA resuming the strike alone, and burdened with feelings of personal responsibility for having been deceived into ending the initial strike, Sands talked the INLA prisoners into delaying for a time to permit a joint effort. It was announced on January 27 that a new hunger strike would begin on March 1, exactly six years after political status was withdrawn, if the demands were not met. Sands himself would be the first to embark on the protest, to be joined later by three others, including an INLA prisoner. The movements outside the prisons increased efforts to dissuade the prisoners from this course, but when, on March 1, 1981, Sands refused his breakfast, beginning the new hunger strike, there was no option but to support the course the prisoners had chosen for themselves.

    The National H-Block/Armagh Committees was granted a hearing with the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, on March 11, but they gained nothing of tangible value. On March 15, IRA prisoner Francis Hughes joined the hunger strike, to be followed by the INLA prisoners' OC Patsy O'Hara and IRA prisoner Raymond McCreesh on March 23. The hunger strike continued to grow, and on May 5, Sands became the first of the prisoners to die, after 66 days on hunger strike.

    Before his death, Sands became the principal player in a tactic whose success would have lasting impact on world opinion, as well as on the tactics of his own movement. The death of an SDLP MP in the electoral district of Fermanagh/South Tyrone caused a bi-election to be held for the seat, and thereby created a immense opportunity to draw attention to the hunger strike, as well as to demonstrate the popular support for its demands. Sands was nominated for election, and the SDLP withdrew their own candidate rather than split the Nationalist vote. Sands was elected MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone on April 9, demonstrating to the world that the prisoners, and by extension the national liberation struggle, had the support of the masses in the occupied Six Counties. The election tactic was used to advantage in several other instances. Two members each of the IRSP and People's Democracy won seats on the Belfast City Council running on an H-Block/Armagh slate. The vacancy created by Sands death was filled by the election of Sinn Féin member Owen Carron, who had been Sands election agent, on an H-Block/Armagh ticket. A general election in the 26 Counties brought a general election to Ireland in June 1981, two prisoners, Kevin Agnew and hunger striker Kieran Doherty, were elected as TDs (members of the Irish parliament) and two others Tony O'Hara and hunger striker Kevin Lynch only narrowly missed election.

    INLA prisoner Michael Devine became the last of ten men to die on hunger strike, on August 20, 1981. The funerals of he, and the nine who died before him, brought out some of the largest crowds ever witnessed in political demonstrations in Ireland. Their deaths brought the attention of the world to the struggle for national liberation in Ireland and the tyranny of Britain. The hunger strike brought masses of people in the 26 Counties out of their lethargy and into the streets in support of the Nationalist struggle in the North. The hunger strike succeeded in bringing large numbers of new recruits into the IRA and INLA, as well as Sinn Féin and the IRSP; and international support organizations for the Irish national liberation struggle sprang up where they had not been before, and grew when they had already existed. Officially, Britain never conceded the five demands, but in reality they strike succeeded in what it set out to accomplish. The prisoners have ever since been allowed the right to their own clothes, to free association, had privledges restored, and continue to exercise their own command struction within the prisons. In looking back, however, the victory won by the prisoners in regard to prison rules for themselves, pales compared to the tremendous thrust forward the hunger strike gave to the national liberation struggle as a whole. The changes brought about through the rapid influx of new members into the national liberation movements would have dramatic effects on them, both positive and negative, throughout the decade which followed the hunger strike.

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    by Mary McIlroy


    Ireland Enters the 20th Century

    The decade of the 1980s was one of tremendous change for Ireland, the full extent of which was realized in the November 1992 elections in the South. At that time, "politics as usual" was rejected by the 26 County voters, who dealt Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael a major blow by turning to the Labour Party. No party won a clear majority in that election, but Labour picked up the largest number of seats. It also took weeks for a coalition government to be negotiated. At the same time as the Dáil elections, three referenda were held on the question of abortion. The Southern Irish people voted for a woman's right to leave the country to get an abortion, and for access to information on abortion, though they still rejected a woman's right to have an abortion in Ireland. What led to these dramatic changes by the Irish electorate? It was abundantly clear the Irish people were no longer a quaint, backwards folk.

    The Economic Climate

    Throughout the '80s and into the '90s, Ireland faced all the social problems found in every other industrialized nation. Ireland, North and South, underwent many changes. In the South, the economic boom of the '70s turned to bust, a result of the world-wide economic crisis. The high-tech industries from the US, Germany and Japan pulled out. Unemployment soared, as did emigration. In addition to the loss of jobs, there was the added problem of repatriation of profits by multinational corporations. A 1987 study showed that in that year, IR£ 17,000 in profits was repatriated per worker. For multinationals, in 1983, profits reached IR£ 1.2 billion, of which 1 billion left the country. The repatriation of profits caused serious economic problems for the government, as its actual revenues fell far short of projections used to plan the national budget.

    Ireland, and Britain, had joined the European Economic Community in 1972, and the result for Ireland's agriculture was devastating. The small family farm became a thing of the past, as agribusiness came to the fore. The small farms were taken over by large foreign conglomerates, particularly from Germany. The nature of the EEC was such that livestock raised in Ireland was taken abroad for slaughtering and processing, then brought back into the country for consumption.

    The demographics of the nation shifted, as young people moved from the rural areas in the west into cities such as Dublin, or left the country altogether, joining the diaspora in the US, Canada or Britain. Every Irish government has viewed emigration not as a tragedy to be ended, but as a positive release valve for a troubled nation unable to provide a decent standard of living for its best and brightest. Northern demographics shifted as well, by the early 1990's it was found that the Protestant majority so carefully crafted by British partition now stood at only 56% of the Six County's population.

    In the North unemployment also rose. The traditional industries of ship building and textiles had all but died, or were moved to developing nations in Asia. While there were attempts to bring in new investment, nothing major took hold. The DeLorean scandal was one of many cases of exploitation by multinationals of the conflict in the North for profit. The North didn't get the massive high-tech development the South did, so it has yet to feel effects of the changes in production being felt elsewhere in the world. It should be noted that unemployment is much higher in Nationalist areas than in Loyalist. A 1992 study by the Fair Employment Commission in the North found that Catholics were twice as likely to be unemployed as Protestants, and it is estimated that in some Nationalist areas, male unemployment runs as high as 80%. There are service industry jobs available, which usually go to women. Much of the Nationalist population lives "on the dole," but there are some jobs available "under the table." Some of these jobs are in the food service area, or in domestic work, and have long hours at low pay and no benefits. The British government has yet to come up with an effective plan for economic development in the North.

    The Political Arena

    Along with multinationals came increased pressure on the 26 Counties to give up its traditional neutrality and join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The west of Ireland became flooded with telecommunications systems, while under-going an exodus of population. Under US President Reagan, the Cold War had reached a fevered pitch, and Ireland, as the western-most nation of Europe, was viewed as being strategically very important. The telecommunications network in the desolate west of Ireland was developed as a necessary part of NATO communications, rather than as any part of an attempt to meet the nation's needs. In the 1980s, several fishing trawlers in the Irish Sea had nets caught in submarines, and suffered damages. Needless to say, NATO denied any involvement in these incidents.

    The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, in this atmosphere of NATO machinations, drew great support in Ireland, and during President Reagan's 1984 visit, protested his policies with large demonstrations. In addition to the threat of nuclear weapons on Irish soil, Ireland suffered from the dumping of nuclear waste into the Irish Sea by the Sellafield reactor in England, raising concerns of Irish fishermen who used the sea for their livelihood.

    The North was not exempt from the MAD policies of the Cold War. At one point in the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher's government seemed to take a cue from her idol in the White House and planned a track missile silo system, to be placed in the Six Counties. Even the Loyalists protested this threat to "their" land, and the idea was scrapped.

    Social Issues

    Drug abuse was another indication that Ireland had entered the 20th Century. In 1980, the only drugs in the South used by young people were alcohol and, occasionally, inhalents. Then heroin began to enter the country, and by 1984, Dublin had the worst rate, per-capita, of addiction to that drug in Europe, and among the highest in the entire world. Many working class areas of Dublin banded together to get the major pushers out of their communities. These community groups, organized under the Concerned Parents Action Committee, forced the drug sellers from their residences, however, usually they would simply move to a new community. The Irish government seemed unable, or unwilling, to combat the problem effectively, and many of the bigger dealers, if arrested, were able to furnish themselves with comfortable surroundings while in jail. This influx of heroin coincided with a rise in unemployment and a rise in the percentage of the population under the age of 25 (over 50% of the population in the South is under 25). It is this age group that is most likely to be un or under-employed, and many youth have made a career of attending job training programs. Young people able to leave often do so, but many are left behind, to live out a life of poverty and unemployment. While still in school, Irish students are faced with rising costs and less government funding for education at all levels, including college and university.

    The sexual revolution came to Ireland in the 1980s. People began to recognize that relationships cannot be regulated, either by a government or by a church. While legislation on social issues remains behind that of most other industrial nations, there are demands for change. Single men and women now have access to contraception, although this is most readily available in the cities. Some pubs have openly violated legal bans on condom vending machines, winning broad popular support for their defiance. Women now have access to information on abortion, and cannot be prevented from leaving the country to obtain one, and many women each year do just that. Statistics show that every year, several thousand Irish women travel to England to terminate pregnancies. There is a growing body of Irish people who would like to see at least some form of limited access to abortion, especially when a woman's health or life is in danger. Though a limited advance, these developments are in sharp contrast to the social attitudes that permitted the passage of a constitutional amendment in 1983, which made abortion not only illegal, but unconstitutional.

    Along with abortion, divorce became an issue which illustrated the changes ongoing in Irish society. Divorce is not available in Ireland, even in cases where an annulment has been granted by the Vatican. Legally, children born out of wedlock suffer from the "stigma" of illegitimacy. Divorce, like abortion, brought forth major campaigns for reform. Although divorce is still illegal in Ireland, in 1986, there was a campaign to legalize some forms of divorce, similar to the 1983 campaign to combat making abortion unconstitutional. The campaign drew many people into political action, and the margin by which the measure failed was narrow. Likewise, those seeking a liberalization of abortion laws were unable to defeat the amendment, but the margin by which it passed was greatly narrowed over the course of the campaign.

    In the South, the laws on homosexuality were a remnant of the Victorian era, when all Ireland was under British rule. Thus, in Ireland, as in Britain, there were laws only against male homosexuality-Queen Victoria refused to believe that Lesbianism existed. By the early 1980s, Lesbians and Gays began to organize, and repressive legislation was eventually repealed, with the last laws against homosexuality falling in 1993. The Lesbian and Gay rights movement also mobilized in Irish communities in the US in the early '90s, when the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization was denied the right to march in the New York and Boston St. Patrick's Day parades. The US courts ruled that the Ancient Order of Hibernians, who controlled the New York event, had the right to keep any organization out of the parade. There was a certain irony, that in Dublin, Lesbians and Gays marched in the annual St. Patrick's Day parade, while in New York, they were kept out. The irony was extended to the military when Ireland began allowing Gays and Lesbians to serve in the Irish Army, in compliance with EC norms (only Britain maintains such a ban among EC member states), while the Clinton administration instituted its "don't ask, don't tell" policy, continuing the ban on Lesbians and Gays in the US military.

    The AIDS crisis has reached Ireland. Unlike the US and Britain, the largest group infected with HIV in Ireland are intravenous drug users and their partners. Women have a higher rate of infection in Ireland than elsewhere in the industrialized world. Since many drug users commit crimes to get money for drugs, AIDS health care in prisons has also become a pressing issue.

    All these changes in Irish society have left the bishops in a quandary. How do they keep their grasp on the people, when the people are moving forward? The bishops have been involved in most of the campaigns against social reform in Ireland, however, they themselves have been plagued by scandal, most notably the Bishop Casey affair, a bishop who had a son by an American woman, which the Church kept quiet for 18 years.

    The North is not a hotbed of progressive social legislation either. Divorce is frowned upon by the Protestant community, as is abortion, which is available only in limited cases. When the British parliament tried to standardize the laws on homosexuality in the North with those elsewhere in the ³United Kingdom, ³the Reverend Ian Paisley began a "Save Ulster from Sodomy" campaign, which prompted Gay and Lesbian activists to counter with a "Save Sodomy from Ulster" campaign.

    Much work needs to be done on social issues if the island is to be reunified. Even in the North's Protestant community, there are progressive people who would like to see social legislation there liberalized. The constitution of Ireland must be changed preparatory to reunification, not only to appease the Protestants of the North, but because many in the Catholic community of both the North and South are also demanding changes on social issues.

    British Terror

    Immediately following the hunger strike, the British tried several tactics to break political activists and those under arms against the occupation. The British began strip searching women remand prisoners (those awaiting trial without bail) in Armagh and then Maghaberry prisons. This is a particularly degrading tactic for Irish women, who live in a society which regards sexuality and the human body as intensely private matters. The pretext used was security, to prevent smuggling contra-band, however, in the many years this tactic has been used, only two or three items have been found. The searches are conducted after court appearances, when the women have been in contact only with police and attorneys. Sometimes the searches occur in the presence of male guards. Many women have suffered medical problems, including a suspension of menstrual cycles, as a result of the stress strip searches cause. In 1992, a Belfast court upheld the legality of the searches.

    Another form of terror the British use are shoot-to-kill tactics, mostly against members of the IRA and INLA, but on occasion, civilians have also been killed. In an official investigation, the killings of six men were examined, three were in the IRA, two in the INLA, and one was a young civilian. A chief constable from England, John Stalker, was named to head the investigation. He was stonewalled by the RUC, and allegations of impropriety were made against him. The "shoot-to-kill" investigation became "Stalker-gate" after he was removed from the investigation. Not surprising to anyone, the RUC and British Army were found innocent of any deliberate attempt to kill IRA and INLA members. In a separate case, the European Convention on Human Rights ruled that Britain should be taken before the European Court on Human Rights, and tried for the deaths of IRA volunteers and staff officers Mairead Farrell, Seán Savage and Danny McCann, known as the Gibraltar 3. The trio were assassinated by the British Army on Gibraltar, after which the British government attempted a coverup, stating that a bomb was found in their car. When this failed, Thatcher's people tried to blame the Spanish security forces, who refused to be the fall guys for the cold-blooded murder of the three. Although the British courts found those involved in the killings innocent of wrong-doing, the families appealed to the European Community. The trial is expected to start in the fall of 1994. The case also exposed the bigotry of the English press towards non-Anglo Saxon peoples. A woman resident of Gibraltar who witnessed the killings, and spoke about what she saw, sued for libel, and won, after a tabloid insulted her character, implying she was a prostitute and not a loyal British subject.

    Long suspected by the Nationalist community, the collaboration between the RUC, British Army, Loyalist paramilitaries, and the then-Ulster Defence Regiment (its name was changed in the early 1990s) was confirmed by the British government. This collaboration resulted in the killing of not only political activists who weren't in an armed group, but even members of the Nationalist community who weren't involved in any political group. By 1993, elected representatives of both Sinn Féin and the SDLP increasingly became targets for attack.

    Another tactic the British used was the wholesale arrest of members of the Republican and Republican Socialist movements, on the word of a "reformed terrorist," that is, a paid perjurer. Most times, these "supergrasses" ("grass" being slang for informer) would be given a list of names and "crimes" to sign. Although eventually many of these cases were thrown out on appeal, there was a demoralizing effect on activists. As a smaller organization, the Irish Republican Socialist Movement was particularly hard hit. Unlike during the hunger strike, a mass, organized opposition to the informers tactic failed to materialize, in part due to Sinn Féin's insistence on political domination of any mass group. Thus, there were three Nationalist groups (Sinn Féin's, the IRSP's, and an independent one led by Bernadette Devlin McAliskey), as well as a group for Loyalist prisoners.

    The National Liberation Forces

    The 1981 hunger strike had a tremendous impact on the republican movement as a whole. Sinn Féin, for the first time, saw what mass mobilization could do, and it was a lesson not lost on them. In a return to the 1966 analysis of involvement in social issues, Sinn Féin began to expand work in these areas, though their approach seemed to be "how can this help us," and not, "this is an important issue for the Irish people, so it's important for us, also." Sinn Féin began its foray into electoral politics as a direct result of the hunger strike campaign. The National H-Block/Armagh Committee used elections as a means of highlighting the prison struggle. Four of its members (two each from the IRSP and People's Democracy) were elected to the Belfast City Council as H-Block candidates. Then in 1981, while on hunger strike, Bobby Sands was elected to the Westminster parliament. After his death, his election agent, Owen Carron, replaced Sands. The tactic was also used in the South, with IRA hunger striker Kieran Doherty and Kevin Agnew, another IRA prisoner, were elected to Dáil Eireann, and other Blanket Men also doing well in the polls. After the hunger strike, Sinn Féin began fielding candidates for local councils and the European parliament. In 1983, Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin president, was elected as MP for West Belfast, and held the seat until April 1992. Sinn Féin members were elected to county and city councils in the North and South. The party even went so far as to restructure its Cummain (chapters) along electoral districts. In 1986, after much debate over several years, Sinn Féin dropped its policy of abstentionism in Dáil Eireann. This reflected a change in principle as well as tactics. Sinn Féin began an analysis which would lead to a document called "A Scenario for Peace," which called for a broad front of nationalist forces, and a constitutional convention for the whole island, things the IRSP had called for since 1974. The document also called for the repatriation to mainland Britain of any Loyalist who wished to leave Ireland, to be paid for by the British, i.e., working class British taxpayers. The dropping of abstentionism led to a split in Sinn Féin, when hard-line abstentionists walked out of the Ard Fheis and formed Republican Sinn Féin, a political party with little politics which supported armed struggle, but had no army. The IRA had declared its support for the new order in a convention held several weeks before the Ard Fheis.

    In 1982, elections were held for a new assembly in the North. As the British tried to bring in "rolling devolution," but the attempt failed utterly. The Unionist parties supported the Northern Ireland Assembly, but the nationalist community was divided over the issue. The body would have very limited power, and many felt it was just a sop to Loyalists. The bourgeois Nationalists of the SDLP supported the assembly, and sought election with the intention of taking seats. The IRSP advocated a boycott, and initially, Sinn Féin supported the idea. After the SDLP announced it would run, Sinn Féin changed its mind, deciding to also field candidates, but on an abstentionist platform. The IRSP, with the Irish Independence Party, continued to advocate boycotting, but if voting, to vote Sinn Féin. During the election campaign, the INLA engaged in a bombing campaign to disrupt the election. The bombing campaign was criticized by Sinn Féin. The whole mess came to an ignoble end after several years, when the Unionists pulled out over the Anglo-Irish Agreement, and the only party left participating was the SDLP.

    The contradictions in Sinn Féin's electoral policies became sharper during the 1992 Westminster election. Recognizing the changes in the world power structure, Sinn Féin, while still stating opposition to the EC, began calling for its investment in the North of Ireland. Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has several times called for UN intervention in the North, while the UN has increasingly come to serve US interests in the "New World Order." This is a far cry from the "Ourselves Alone" days of Sinn Féin in the early 1970s.

    Sinn Féin seems desperate to be involved in any talks or negotiations leading to the withdrawal of British troops from the North, and even possible reunification. Ard Fheisnna in recent years have emphasized the separation between Sinn Féin and the IRA, repeatedly stating that Sinn Féin is not a party of violence. The IRA continues its campaign in the Six Counties and England. In 1992, the IRA engaged in a Christmas bombing campaign, and set off bombs in England throughout the winter of 1992/93, however, a ceasefire was called for 72 hours beginning on Christmas day. The INLA, in a symbolic action on the first day of the ceasefire, fired upon an observation post, demonstrating its distinct presence in the national liberation struggle.

    In the autumn of 1993, Sinn Féin drafted a proposal for a peace settlement jointly with the SDLP. Detail of the document have been closely guarded, but the Dublin government, to which it was presented, has favorablly passed it along to the British government for review, though coalition partner Dick Spring, of the Irish Labour Party, penned his own peace proposal as well. Not to be outdone, Ian Paisley issued his own peace proposal less than two month later. While it is too early to state much with certainty regarding this new peace process, the possibility of an IRA cease-fire has begun to enter the realm of possibility, perhaps even probability, especially since revelations in late 1993 that Britain's Tory government has been engaged in secret negotiations with the IRA for some time.

    Meanwhile, Official Sinn Féin became Sinn Féin the Workers Party, then just the Workers Party. The WP became a Soviet-oriented party, competing with the Communist Party of Ireland for ties with the former Soviet Union, before it imploded upon itself in 1992. The majority walked out of a national party congress and formed a rival social democratic party called the Democratic Left. The Irish working class is now watching the spectacle of both parties accusing each other of getting Soviet gold and of having knowledge of the Official IRA. Both parties seem to forget that they were all in the Workers Party together while this was going on. The OIRA still maintained an unofficial existence, engaging mostly in armed robberies, extortion, and other "fundraising" activities. They seem to have been most active in the Belfast building trades, controlling access to job sites by workers and bosses both.

    The Irish Republican Socialist Movement entered the period after the hunger strike in a strong position, although still trying to recover from the assassinations of Seamus Costello, Miriam Daly and Ronnie Bunting. The IRSP benefitted from being seen as acting in a principled manner during the H-Block/Armagh campaign, and the INLA won many new recruits to the young organization. However, this rapid growth would prove devastating to the movement.

    The IRSM was particularly strong in the South. Unlike the IRA, the INLA had no orders to refrain from engaging Free State forces, and in September, 1982, took on the Free State and NATO by blowing up the Mount Gabriel radar station. The South claimed to be neutral, yet the station was violating that neutrality by transmitting to NATO forces. No one was killed in the attack, and it served to highlight Dublin's ties to the imperialists of Britain and the US.

    Extradition became an important issue in the South, when INLA leader Dominic McGlinchey was arrested on St. Patrick's Day, 1984 in County Clare. He was sent to the North that very night, even though there were arrest warrants for him in the South. McGlinchey had become something of a folk hero in Ireland while on the run, and many stories circulated about his avoiding capture. He was also a powerful force within the IRSM, being not only a capable military leader, but also a clear political thinker. He began to weed out undisciplined and opportunist volunteers, but he would pay a high price personally for commitment this undertaking. After his extradition, he was convicted, but the conviction was overturned on appeal. He was then extradited back to the South, to stand trial on charges resulting from his arrest, was convicted and sentenced to 10 years. While in Portlaoise, his wife Mary gave birth to their daughter, Maire, who died 15 months later, without her father having seen her. At the viewing, her tiny coffin was searched, and the grieving family spied upon by the Garda. Mary was assassinated while bathing her two sons in 1987, and Dominic was refused compassionate parole to attend her funeral. Even after his release, his troubles continued. He was shot twice in the face while leaving a son's 16th birthday party, by people who are either still afraid of him, or want revenge; he personally accused the British for the attack.

    Extradition has also become a key issue also for Irish activists in the US. Britain succeeded in having IRA member Liam Quinn extradited to London, and Joe Doherty deported to Belfast. Three of the 1983 Maze escapees were arrested in 1992 in California, and as of this writing, are undergoing extradition proceedings. Jim Barr, a member of the IRSP who fled to the US after being named by paid perjurer Harry Kirkpatrick as a member of the INLA, won political asylum in 1993, successfully fighting deportation and extradition attempts. It seems strange that the US government would pursue the case after the others arrested with Barr were all released on appeal. Along with extradition, there have been several notable cases of Irish activists arrested in the United States on charges of gunrunning and developing weapons technology for the national liberation forces. The "Freedom Five" were acquitted in New York, but most others haven't been as fortunate, and have served, or are serving time in federal prisons. These extraditions and arrests solidify the relationship between Britain and the United States, and serve their shared imperialist aims. Britain was the only European nation to allow the US to use its airspace when it bombed Libya, rewarding the US for its aggressive legal persecutions of Irish activists. Strangely, some Irish republican supporters in the US have taken up the call for a US special envoy to mediate in Ireland, despite consistent support for British occupation from it US imperialist ally.

    In the South, a major campaign was waged for IRSP member Nicky Kelly, who was convicted of a train robbery. Kelly and three other IRSP members were charged with robbing a mail train in 1976. The first trial ended in a mistrial, and three of the four were retried. Kelly fled to the US when it became obvious the men would be convicted. He returned to Ireland in 1980 after his codefendants were released on appeal, due to proof their confessions resulted from torture. Kelly, however, lost all his appeals, and in 1983, began a hunger strike. An international campaign was mounted, and in July 1984, Kelly was released, on humanitarian grounds. Both Kelly and codefendant Oscar Breatnach, continue to seek financial compensation from the Irish government commensurate to the crimes committed against them. The case of the "Great Train Robbery" was just one of many examples of harassment by the government of members of the IRSP. The IRA, in a very unusual move, repeatedly claimed responsibility for the robbery. The IRSP members were beaten by Garda members known as "the Heavy Gang," and tried in the non-jury Special Courts. Kelly's real "crime" seems to have been that he fled.

    In the meantime, within the IRSP, there was much political debate over the direction of the Party. At the 1984 Ard Fheis, a resolution was passed to define the Party's socialism as in the tradition of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Connolly was overwhelmingly passed. There was opposition to the motion from the sidelines, but those opposed rejected the democratic mechanisms available within the Movement to express their views. Problems came to the fore, especially in the prisons. The rapid growth of both the IRSP and INLA, and the day-to-day struggles againast occupation, led to a lack of political education for new members. Some older members were opposed to the new turn the Party was taking; even though in actual analysis, the Party had always been Marxist. There were some elements in the INLA who had joined, not for political reasons, but because they could become a "large fish in a small pond," and some of these elements engaged in criminal gangsterism rather than revolutionary struggle. From 1983-86, the IRSM rid itself of these elements: some left, others were purged. In 1986, in an effort to get the Movement back on track, then-prisoner Ta Power wrote a document which the IRSP and INLA adopted. It called for a recommitment to the Broad Front policy, and stated that, "a revolutionary socialist party means that we must engage in revolutionary politics throughout all of Ireland, on the streets and in the elected chambers." The major change for the IRSM was that the document called for the subordination of the Army to the political direction of the Party. This call came from the Army itself, as a recognition of past mistakes.

    Those who had left the movement began to band together, calling themselves the "Irish Peoples' Liberation Organization" (IPLO). In January 1987, while on the way to a meeting between the INLA and IPLO, Ta Power and his colleagues were ambushed. Power and INLA Chief of Staff John O'Rielly were killed, and two other comrades wounded. This began a series of attacks on members of the IRSM which would last until March of that year, when the INLA assassinated the IPLO's military leader, Gerard Steenson. The attacks dealt a major blow to the IRSM, not just through assassination, but because the fear of assassination paralyzed the political work of the IRSP. Party members in many areas feared for their lives, and kept a low profile for several months. Afterwards, the IRSP reemerged, and began to develop relations with Marxist parties in Britain and anti-imperialist governments and movements throughout the world. The INLA remained, though briefly withdrawing from action to reorganize, and is still waging a military campaign against British imperialism, making a sharp resurgence in 1992 in both Ireland and England. During the attacks on the IRSM by the IPLO, while the IPLO declared their attacks were meant to force the INLA to disband, Sinn Féin called on what they termed "both factions of the INLA" to disband as well. The IRA called for the same thing, with the weapons of the INLA to be turned over to themselves! The INLA rejected this call, and held onto its weapons, soon forcing the IPLO to cease their attacks on members of the IRSM. Many of those involved with the IPLO were later identified as having joined the IRA, when they were killed or arrested during IRA actions. Those who remained in the rump-IPLO turned it into a criminal organization which raised funds by dealing drugs, particularly the drug Ecstasy. The IPLO also claimed responsibility for several sectarian attacks on Protestants who weren't members of security forces or Loyalist death squads. Further, the IPLO took responsibility for the bombing of one of the few Gay bars in Belfast. The sorry existence of the IPLO seems to have ended in 1992, when their leading political "theorist," Jimmy Brown, was killed by a rival faction, apparently in a dispute over profits from drug sales. The Brown faction disbanded after another two members were killed, one by the IPLO rival faction, the other by the IRA because of the drug dealing. Under pressure from the IRA the other faction dissolved itself as well.

    There are other, small Marxist parties in Ireland. The "indigenous" Irish parties are the rump of People's Democracy (the majority joined Sinn Féin in the '80s) and the Socialist Workers' Group, led by the 1960s civil rights activist Eammon McCann (both Trotskyist) and the Communist Party of Ireland, which became a "Euro-Communist" party. Many of the smaller parties are sister groups of Leninist and Trotskyist parties in England. The analyses of many of these ignore the history of British imperialism and capitalism in Ireland, and call for "uniting the Catholic and Protestant working class," while ignoring the fact that it is Catholics who suffer most from unemployment and sectarian attacks, and that republicans and republican socialists have always welcomed fighters of any or no faith, while also disregarding the role of partition in thwarting working class unity. Religion, for republicans, is not the issue; the economic and political destiny of Ireland is. These Left groups receive little or no support from either the nationalist or loyalist communities, and are irrelevant for the vast majority of the Irish working class. A small group of prisoners broke with the Provisionals and founded an organization calling itself "Congress '86," after the Republican Congress. It briefly issued a publication, adding a new voice for socialism within the republican milleu, but the organization seems to have withered away.

    Loyalist Reaction

    The Loyalists have felt increasingly "betrayed" by the British government. By the early 1980s, some Loyalists, especially the paramilitary groups, were beginning to advocate an "independent Ulster" theory, that the Six Counties could be a viable independent nation. Along with this was an ideology of a separate "race" of "Ulstermen," and an economic critique of capitalism reminiscent of Fascism. There was an increasing alienation between the paramilitaries and "moderate" politicians, but when the Anglo-Irish Agreement was reached, the Unionists and Loyalists both rejected it, bringing renewed unity. This resulted in increased sectarian attacks on Nationalists.

    The British government has begun to distance itself from the Loyalist community, even banning the Ulster Defence Association in 1992, including banning them from the airwaves, as with Sinn Féin, the IRSP and individual republicans in 1988. The Loyalist death squads linked up with other fascist groups in the US and Europe in the 1980s, and Unionist politician Peter Robinson, long associated with Loyalist paramilitaries visited Israel to "study" their security systems. However, the relationship between Britain and the Loyalist community remains viable. By the summer of 1993, there were widespread rumors of a deal between British Prime Minister John Major and the Ulster Unionist Party, who supported him over the European Community treaty. The details remain a mystery.

    Things to Come

    Ireland today is at a crossroads. Many things may happen, but it is clear that, especially in the Nationalist areas of the North, there is a war-weariness amongst the people. British troops have been in their communities since August 1969. An entire generation has grown up with that reality. The world is much changed since the days of the civil rights movement and Bloody Sunday. The UN and EC are increasingly coming to the fore in world disputes. It may be thought that these bodies could play a role in Ireland. This raises many serious questions for the national liberation struggle in Ireland. What does that border really mean, in a unified Europe? Will the South remain all that concerned with its token claim over "the entire island of Ireland" when unemployment hovers at 20%? Can Sinn Fééin force the IRA into a ceasefire in exchange for withdrawal of British troops and a place at the table of any talks between the British and Irish governments, Loyalists and other nationalist parties? As socialists, the IRSM believes that any settlement which does not answer the questions of national liberation and socialism cannot succeed, but will only put off the inevitable class struggle. The Irish Republican Socialist Movement is not frightened by this prospect; it will continue to organize as a revolutionary segment of the Irish working class, in the tradition of Connolly and Costello.

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    1169 English conquest of Ireland
    1608 Plantation of Ulster
    1691 Penal Laws passed
    1795 Orange Order founded
    1798 United Irishmen insurrection
    1801 Act of Union between Ireland and Britain
    1803 Robert Emmett's attempted rising
    1829 Catholic Emancipation Act
    1845-50 Potato Blight, "the Famine"
    1848 Young Ireland insurrection
    1858 Irish Republican Brotherhood founded
    1867 Fenian Rising
    1871 Irish Home Rule League founded
    1879 Land League founded
    1881 Land Act passed, provides "Four F's"
    1898 Connolly becomes head of the Irish Socialist Republican Party
    1905 Sinn Fein founded
    1913 Ulster Volunteers and Irish Volunteers founded
    1913 Dublin dock strike/lock-out, Irish Citizen Army founded
    1914 Government of Ireland Act promises Home Rule
    1916 Easter Rising
    1918 Sinn Fein virtually sweeps election in Ireland
    1919-21 Dail Eireann established, National insurrection
    1921 Irish Free State established, Ireland partitioned
    1922 Special Powers Act passed in occupied six counties
    1922-23 Civil War
    1926 Eamon de Valera founds Fianna Fáil
    1931 Saor Eire surfaces as republican socialist organization
    1934 Republican Congress founded
    1936 Connolly Column joins republican forces in Spain
    1937 New constitution adopted.
    1949 Declaration of the Irish republic
    1956-62 Border Campaign
    1966 Seamus Costello declares "New Departure" at Bodenstown; Gusty Spence's Loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force commits first sectarian killings of the current conflict
    1968 Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association founded; (Dec. 31-Jan. 4) Long march from Belfast to Derry
    1969 Loyalist explode first bombs of the current conflict; (August 14) First British troops land in the six counties; (Dec./Jan.-'70) IRA split into Official and Provisional wings
    1971 PIRA shoots first British soldier killed in Ireland in almost 50 years; Internment instituted
    1972 (Jan. 30) Bloody Sunday; paratroopers fire on peaceful demonstration, killing 14 and wounding 28; Amnesty International finds the British government guilty of "inhumane and degrading treatment" of Irish prisoners; Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont falls, Britain institutes direct rule; OIRA declares a cease-fire
    1973 Emergency Powers Act suspends most civil rights in Northern Ireland, establishes Diplock courts
    1974 Britain attempts power-sharing executive in the North; Ulster Workers' Council strike; London resumes direct rule; Loyalist bombs in the South kill 27; bombs in England kill 21; Prevention of Terrorism Act passed; (Dec. 10) Irish Republican Socialist Party and Irish National Liberation Army founded
    1976 Special Category status revoked; Peace People founded; POW Ciarán Nugent begins "Blanket Protest"
    1977 Seamus Costello assassinated by OIRA
    1979 National H-Block/Armagh Committee founded
    1980 Hunger strike in the H-Blocks and Armagh Prison
    1981 Hunger strike resumed after Britain failed to institute the agreed-upon five demands resulting in the death of three INLA and seven IRA prisoners of war
    1982 Northern Ireland Assembly elections
    1983 Nicky Kelly hunger strike; Abortion declared unconstitutional in 26 Counties
    1984 McGlinchey becomes first person extradited from the 26 counties to the six counties; IRSP declares itself Marxist; CND demonstrations against Reagan visit
    1986 Sinn Fein drops abstensionism, Republican Sinn Fein founded; Congress '86 founded by ex-IRA prisoners
    1987 IPLO founded, attacks IRSP & INLA members
    1992 Workers Party splits, Democratic Left founded; IPLO disbands after internal feud and attacks by IRA for drug dealing
    1994 PIRA ceasefire declared.
    1995 Continuity Army Council of the Irish Republican Army emerges, in solidarity with political line of Republican Sinn Fein.

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    © 1994, 2010 Republican Socialist Publications.


    The Irish Republican Socialist Committee of North America is the only organization sanctioned by the I.R.S.P. to represent the interests of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement in Canada and the U.S.. We welcome correspondence from individuals, or groups, seeking more information on the Irish Republican Socialist Movement, or the actions of the I.R.S.C. to support of its on-going struggle for national liberation and socialism in Ireland.