IRSP At Congress Anti-Austerity March in Belfast

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The Irish Republican Socialist Party in the Belfast joined with over a thousand fellow Socialists and Trades Unionists at a Congress organised rally against austerity measures at Writers’ Square in the city before marching through the city centre, around City Hall then finishing off at Donegal Street.  The very positive march was well received by the general public in Belfast City Centre on a busy shopping day.  The only minor incident was when right-wing Loyalist ‘flag protesters’ from the safety of the gated grounds of City Hall shouted sectarian comments at the march in general and the IRSP in particular.  However, they were roundly ignored by all.  Needless to say none of the pro-establishment parties or their ginger groups, who are facilitating and rubber stamping cuts and austerity measures, saw fit to join with the organised working-class today..

It is a goes without saying that the IRSP whose politics are anti-capitalist, pro-working-class and anti-imperialist will continue to fight against Westminster’s, Stormont’s and Leinster House’s draconian offensives against ordinary working people.  The IRSP concurs with Republican Socialism’s ideological forefather, James Connolly, when he stated over a century ago, words that are are as applicable in today’s unequal society,that,

“Yes, friends, governments in capitalist society are but committees of the rich to manage the affairs of the capitalist class”

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Saoirse go deo!

 

Posted in Anti-austerity, Belfast, Campaigns, Events | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Major March Saturday 18 October Belfast – A Pay Rise For All

A major march in Belfast on Saturday, 18 October,  has been organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), demanding fair pay for workers and protesting against the cuts.   The march assembles at Writers Square, Donegal Street, Belfast at 12 noon on Saturday.  All available Irish Republican Socialists, supporters, their families, friends are asked to attend and are welcomed to march behind our banner!  Flags, posters and placards are welcomed.  For further details please contact your local IRSP representative or the IRSP’s National Headquarters, Costello House, 392b Falls Road, Belfast (Tel: 028 90321024.)

Unlike one-dimensional nationalists of various hues, we as Republican Socialists view both the class struggle and the struggle for national liberation as symbiotic.  As the IRSP’s co-founder, Seamus Costello, stated, we:

“owe our allegiance to the Working Class!”

The realities of the offensive against the Irish working class in the 21st Century are that:

  • Wages have not kept pace with prices since the 1970′s
  • Falling wages and growing inequality and poverty hits businesses as well as households
  • The worst attack on the living standards of workers for nearly a century
  • The super- rich continue to see their incomes soar

The ICTU’s minimum demands are:

  • An enforced minimum wage
  • Commitment to the living wage
  • A crackdown on excessive executive pay and bonuses
  • A crackdown on tax dodging, evasion and avoidance

One would be forgiven for thinking that little has changed qualitatively for the Irish Working Class since the days of Connolly and Larkin’s championing of the demands of the proletariat over a Century ago.  In many cases there has been significant regression, for instance, so-called ‘zero-hour contracts’ are worse in practice than the casual labour schemes faced by the Dockers, Carters and other workers in the early 20th century!

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Saoirse go deo!

Alex

 

Posted in Belfast, Campaigns, Events | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Belfast IRSP Support Striking Health Care Workers Protest at RVH

Belfast-20141013-00038There was a strong Irish Republican Socialist Party presence today as they joined in solidarity with the striking Health Care workers’ protest at the RVH in Belfast. Belfast IRSP members protested in solidarity with Union members who supported today’s 4 hour strike by hundreds of thousands of essential Health Care workers in the north of Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland.

Belfast IRSP spokesperson, Alex McGuigan, speaking at the protest at the RVH stated that, “the IRSP stand totally in solidarity with the striking Health Care workers who have taken industrial action due to the fact that they have been denied even a derisory 1% pay rise.  As socialists we value the essential services health workers’ provide on a 24/7 basis helping the entire community, including the nurses, paramedics, hospital porters, ambulance technicians, Midwives and the many other health service workers who were forced to take industrial action today.”

He continued, “we will continue to protest and stand in solidarity with the Health Care workers as their campaign continues.  It is a travesty that essential health service workers are being denied a 1% pay rise by a government whose Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) plans to forge ahead with plans to give MPs a ten per cent pay boost next year, taking their average salaries to £74,000 for backbenchers alone, not to mention their overly generous expenses allowances that in effect at least doubles that salary!”

The striking RVH workers were extremely well supported by the general public, with the majority of motorists, including bus drivers and Black taxi drivers on the busy two lane road outside the RVH sounding their horns in support of today’s protest.  Pedestrians also pledged their support for the protesting workers.  Protesting health workers thanked the IRSP for their presence and their solidarity support today.

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Posted in Belfast, Campaigns, Industrial Action, Statements | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

40 Years of the Republican Socialist Movement address to Ard Fheis 2014 by Willie Gallagher

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Comrades,

the difficulty I had when first asked to give this presentation was ‘how do I condense 40yrs of our history into a 10 to 15 minute presentation. A definitive and detailed account would take many months, if not years, of research as well as interviewing scores of past activists. The following account is my no means definitive and of course is subject to criticism given the fact that it is laced with my own personal opinion and interpretation.

Even though this year is the 40th anniversary of our birth the Irish Republican Socialist Party can trace its roots back to James Connolly and the Irish Citizens Army.

After the border campaign in the 1950′s, serious debate took place within the Republican Movement about how exactly it could become more relevant to the everyday needs of the people in an Ireland vastly different from the times of Connolly and the ICA.

The Republican Movement after the unsuccessful border campaign was not ideologically united and consisted of a number of factions- the two principle factions being the socialist one and the other being the traditional republican one. The socialist faction advocated that the movement should be heavily involved in the everyday struggles of the people and whilst not denying the need for armed struggle to confront imperialism, it was felt that armed struggle should go hand in hand with building a solid political base. Republican Socialists believed that abstentionism, long considered one of the main tenets of republicanism by the traditionalists was no longer politically viable. It was argued that participation in elections should be viewed as tactical and not one of principle. Of course, as we know, there were those within the socialist faction who were developing a totally reformist position, which was later to become the predominant force.

The other dominant trend within the Republican movement at that time was the old traditionalist faction who believed that only the national question had any relevance to the Irish people. Participation in elections was considered to be in total opposition to republicanism. This faction later emerged as the Provisionals.

During the civil rights campaign, the State in collusion with militant loyalists, launched repeated attacks on the nationalist community culminating in the pogroms of August 1969. The I.R.A. were unable to adequately defend the nationalist community and blamed this on the new social policies being pursued by the leadership of the movement. This, coupled with the dropping of abstentionism, led to the Republican Movement splitting into the Provisional and Official wings.

Those who still believed that the national and class question was inextricably linked remained with the Official camp. This element was led by Seamus Costello. When the Provisionals launched their offensive military campaign against the British, the Officials found themselves also committed, despite what the leadership wanted and because the rank and file in the six counties saw an opportunity to expand the struggle.

Following the departure of the Provisionals, a section of the Officials’ leadership used bureaucratic manipulation and subterfuge to cripple internal democracy, thereby permitting them to push through a ceasefire in May 1972 and to steer a course towards political reformism. Thwarted in attempts to alter the direction of the Officials it became clear that another split was inevitable and  there was no other alternative but to leave the Officials and form a new party. Revolutionary republicans came together with trade unionists and other socialists to form the Irish Republican Socialist Party under the slogan “For National Liberation and Socialism” and this was followed with widespread defections from the Officials.

The IRSP announced their arrival on the political scene with the following statement which is just as relevant today than when first released.

“At a meeting held in Dublin on Sunday, 8.12.’74, a decision was made to form a new political party, to be known as the Irish Republican Socialist Party. The inaugural meeting was attended by approximately 80 delegates from Belfast, Armagh, Co. Derry, Derry City, Donegal, Dublin, Wicklow, Cork, Clare, Limerick and Tipperary. It was unanimously agreed that the objective of the Party would be to:
End Imperialist rule in Ireland and establish a 32 County Democratic Socialist Republic with the working class in control of the means of production, distribution and exchange.

To this end, it was agreed that the Party would launch a vigorous campaign of political agitation and education, North and South, on the following issues:

SIX COUNTIES

1/ Recognising that British Imperialist interference in Ireland constitutes the most immediate obstacle confronting the Irish People in their struggle for democracy, National Liberation and Socialism, it shall be the policy of the Party to seek the formation of a broad front on the basis of the following demands:

A/ That Britain must immediately renounce all claims to Sovereignty over any part of Ireland and its coastal waters, and should immediately specify an early date for the total withdrawal of her military and political presence from Ireland.
B/ Having specified the date for her total withdrawal from Ireland, Britain must immediately withdraw all troops to barracks, release all internees and sentenced political prisoners, grant a general amnesty for all offences arising from the military campaign against British Forces or through involvement in the Civil Disobedience Campaign, abolish all repressive legislation, grant a Bill of Rights which will allow complete freedom of political action and outlaw all discrimination whether it be on the basis of class, creed, political opinion or sex. Britain must also agree to compensate the Irish People for the exploitation which has already occurred.
C/ It shall be the policy of the Irish Republican Socialist Party to seek an active working alliance of all radical forces within the context of the Broad Front in order to ensure the ultimate success of the Irish Working Class in their struggle for Socialism.
D/ It will be an immediate objective of the Party to launch an intensive campaign of opposition to the European Economic membership. We, therefore, intend to play an active part in the European Economic Community referendum in the Six County area and through our support groups in Britain.
E/ Recognising that sectarianism, and the present campaign of sectarian assassinations arises as a direct result of British manipulation of the most reactionary elements of Irish Society, we shall seek to end this campaign on the basis of united action by the Catholic and Protestant working class against British Imperialism in Ireland.

TWENTY SIX COUNTIES

1/ We will seek to have a United Campaign of all democratic forces against repressive legislation in the south, and against the policy of blatant collaboration with British Imperialism, which is now being pursued by the 26 County Administration.

2/ THE IRISH REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST PARTY is totally opposed to the exploitation of our natural resources by multi-national Corporations. It shall therefore be our policy to give active and sustained support to the present campaign for the nationalisation of these resources.

3/ Recognising that the rapidly increasing cost of living and rising unemployment are to a large extent a direct result of our EEC membership, it shall be the policy of the Irish Republican Socialist Party to actively support the formation of people’s organisations to combat rising prices and unemployment.”

Legacy of Repression

Shortly after our formation, the Irish Republican Socialist Movement came under relentless attack from a host of adversaries. The Officials put aside their ceasefire in order to wage war on members of the IRSM, baptising the infant movement in the blood of martyrs. Against this backdrop of attacks from both the Officials and the State seen the formation of the People’s Liberation Army, later renamed the Irish National Liberation Army, who defended militarily the IRSP membership and the right of the movement itself to exist. During this defence we lost key members through death and imprisonment.

 

The OIRA attacks continued sporadically over the course of two years, ending with the murder of the IRSP’s founder and first chairperson, as well as leading theorist Seamus Costello in October 1976. Also during this early period a number of OIRA prisoners who shared the political analysis of the newly formed IRSP also split and were granted political recognition and separate accommodation within Long Kesh after a hunger strike. Shortly thereafter INLA prisoners were involved in two morale boosting escapes for the movement-the first in May 1975 when four of our prisoners escaped when appearing at a remand hearing-and the second on the 5th of May 1976 when nine prisoners tunnelled their way through Cage 5 in Long Kesh.

Many would argue that the loss of Seamus Costello was a devastating blow to the RSM in particular and to the working class in general and that his death had repercussions for the Movement in general for the next 15 to 20yrs. He had a clear vision and was firmly fixated on the primacy of politics and building a new working class movement in the tradition of Connolly. Even though he was a member of the INLA Army Council, having served as Chief of Staff and Director of Operations, he believed that the army should always be subservient to the Party, as did others, like for example Bernadette Devlin who resigned from the Ard Comhairle, along with others, on this very issue.

 

However, others, mostly the Northern base were firmly focused on engaging the British militarily which led to a conflict of interest between the Party and Army. Over the past 10-15yrs many have argued, quite convincingly, that the failure to address this particular relationship prevented the movement from realising its full potential. The INLA later executed the individual who robbed us of our charismatic leader and founder of our movement.

Within the first years of our founding, the Dublin regime unleashed what would become known as “the Heavy Gang” within the Garda against the young movement, arresting and torturing virtually the entire IRSP leadership at one point. These relentless attacks right at our birth without doubt seriously curtailed our development.
In the occupied six counties the INLA began their armed campaign against the British and lost many volunteers through death and imprisonment. In 1979 the INLA struck at the very heart of British Imperialism when they executed the right wing Tory war lord Airey Neave. The Movement believed that resolving the question of partition was a necessary perquisite to establishing a workers republic. The Shoot-to-Kill policy by the British and the Super Grass system of using paid perjurers to obtain mass arrests were both used against the IRSM in numbers greatly disproportionate to the size of the Movement. This almost wiped out the Movement with practically all of the Northern leadership imprisoned.

 

The British also used their death squads to murder IRSP and National H Block/Armagh Committee leaders Miriam Daly, Ronnie Bunting, and Noel Little.  The 1981 Hunger Strike resulted in the death of three INLA prisoners of war Patsy O’Hara, Kevin Lynch and Mickey Devine, again greatly disproportionate to the size of the IRSM’s prison population. INLA Chief of Staff Dominic McGlinchey became the most wanted man in both the six and 26 counties, as well as the first republican to be extradited by the Dublin government to the occupied six counties. Indeed, the Dublin regime have sought more extraditions of IRSM members into British custody than any other republican organisation.

At the 1984 Ard Fheis the Party unanimously supported motions that we stood in the tradition of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Connolly. This position was again ratified by the Ard Fheis in 2000.

In the mid-1980′s, Provisional Sinn Fein displayed a policy of marginalisation, demonisation and criminalisation towards the IRSM. They refused to recognise INLA prisoners as combatants, stopped Green Cross donations to the families of our prisoners and refused to allow them to use Green Cross transport for visits. This policy became known as the ‘undermine and absorb’ campaign. Yet while seemingly seizing every chance to malign and condemn the IRSM throughout this period Sinn Fein adopted many symbols and names long associated with the IRSP – from the “Broad Front” policy to even the name of our paper. Sinn Fein seemed to want nothing to escape its hegemony.

In 1987, a collection of factions, who had previously resigned or been purged from the Movement  banded together under the name of the “Irish People’s Liberation Organisation,” with the avowed aim of destroying the IRSM. The IPLO carried out a campaign of murder and intimidation against IRSM activists whilst the British occupation forces looked the other way and the Provisionals called for the INLA to disband and at the same time were giving assistance to IPLO members in Belfast and Armagh.

 

These events created a great deal of confusion within the Movement particularly, but not exclusively, among our membership outside of Belfast and within the prisons. Many within the prison sided with one side or the other out of misguided loyalties and friendships not fully understanding what was really going on. Some, who sided with the IPLO, were later accepted and welcomed back into the Movement at various points thereafter perhaps most notable Crip McWilliams.

Once again we were robbed of key leaders and members who were murdered and intimidated during this onslaught. The loss of Ta Power in particular was another devastating blow to the movement’s potential. He too had a clear vision of where we were coming from, where we should be going and how we could get there.  Eventually a military response from the INLA ended these attacks but the movement as a whole was seriously weakened and marginalised. This weakness led to the takeover of the movement by a small cabal of individuals who considered the movement to be their personal fiefdom. They ran the IRSP down, isolating and demonising key Party members and selling our office in Derry and attempting to sell our office in Belfast. In reality we existed in name only.

Gino Gallagher, who had become highly politicised during his seven year term of imprisonment in the H-Blocks, was released in the early 90s and along with others set about the task of rebuilding the movement. He believed in the primacy of politics and also believed that the implementation of the Ta Power Document had the potential to rebuild the revolutionary movement that Costello and Power had envisaged. But once again at a crucial point of our development the movement came under armed attack from the Torney cabal beginning with the killing of Gino and calling for the disbanding of the movement. As we know the INLA responded in a focused and very robust manner executing the leading players involved in these attacks and neutralising the threat against us. The INLA, some years after these events, also executed the individual who assassinated Gino.

These attacks did not deter those intent on rebuilding the movement as envisaged by Seamus, Ta and Gino. An Ad Hoc leadership was put in place in 1996 and set about the task of rebuilding with the intent of giving the movement back to our membership through collective leadership and decision making and the organisation of an Ard Fheis in December 1997, the first in over a decade, where the membership made policy decisions as well as electing a leadership of their choosing.

Against this backdrop of attacks and rebuilding we were witnessing the unfolding political developments which some called the ‘peace process’ whilst others including the IRSP described as the ‘pacification process’. The British had reorganised their death squads and increased the pressure on republicans in particular and nationalists in general by unleashing these squads to great effect in the early 90s. This and many other factors led the Provisionals to declare a ceasefire in August 1994 with the loyalist death squads following suit in October 1994. The INLA subsequently adopted the position of ‘defence and retaliation’ during this period and in line with this policy executed the leader of the LVF, Billy Wright, within the H-Blocks in what many have described as a spectacular operation. This single act on its own had serious political repercussions and almost collapsed the pacification process. It clearly demonstrated to both the RSM and it’s opponents that the INLA were more than capable of bringing down the pacification process if it choose to do so. However the INLA, rightly or wrongly, decided that it was not in the interests of the working class or the Movement itself to do so but would remain in a defence and retaliation mode.

The pacification process culminated in the signing of the Belfast Agreement aka the Good Friday Agreement in May of 1998. It became clear that the British had always intended to include republicans but exclude republicanism from their predetermined outcomes. The Belfast Agreement clearly demonstrated this with not one republican objective being met. The IRSP quickly rejected the Belfast Agreement on the grounds that it enshrined the unionist veto and institutionalised sectarianism. We openly and unsuccessfully canvassed for a No vote in both referendums and came to the conclusion after the results that the people as a whole were demanding an absence of violence and for the pursuit of political objectives through peaceful means. This conclusion as well as the realisation by the INLA that they did not have the wherewithal to conduct an effective military campaign that would remove the British led them, after much internal debate and consultation, (which included several Movement delegation visits into Long Kesh and Portlaoise) to a ceasefire position declared in August 1998. This decision was later endorsed unanimously at our Ard Fheis several months later.

The INLA in its ceasefire declaration stated ” We acknowledge and admit faults and grievous errors in our prosecution of the war. Innocent people were killed and injured and at times our actions as a liberation army fell far short of what they should have been.” But whatever criticisms that has and can be laid at the INLA we should always remind ourselves that we owe our very existence to the INLA and in particular to all our fallen volunteers and comrades. The INLA were never found wanting when it came to defending the right of the Party to exist and many gave their lives in that defence. I have no doubt that the INLA would again not be found wanting if that need ever arose again in the future. We owe those comrades in particular a great debt of gratitude but gratitude on its own is not suffice -  we must continue on with our vision of working class emancipation by building a revolutionary Party which will lead us to that freedom.

In 1998 we saw an opportunity via the Belfast Agreement to secure the release of the bulk of our prisoners despite our opposition to the Agreement. Prisoner releases were not dependent on support of the Agreement but solely on whether the prisoners in question were aligned to groups that were on recognised ceasefires by both the Free State and British governments.

Since our Ard Fheis in December 1997 the leadership instilled the policy of collectivism throughout all levels of the movement. Leaderships were chosen, not by elite cliques, but by the membership itself by holding regular Ard Fheisenna. We introduced a party constitution which could only be changed by a two thirds majority at an Ard Fheis as well as codes of conduct for all members of the Movement thus ensuring stability, continuity, comradeship and also ensuring that the movement belonged to the membership. Ta Power’s critique was studied and accepted by the leadership with a view of implementing his recommendations. Of course even though Ta’s critique was within a particular timeframe it is perhaps even more relevant today than it ever was and we must remain fully focused on his critique in order to keep building for the future.

Since 1996/7 the IRSP have tried to become more relevant to the working class by becoming more involved in their everyday struggle-we have involved ourselves with community groups and their campaigns, we have aligned ourselves with various trade unions, housing and welfare campaigns as well as fighting for the rights of republican prisoners as well as ex-prisoners. We stood in council elections and received respectable outcomes loosing a seat by a percentage of a single vote. We recently supported a number of successful independent candidates in recent council elections. Also during this period the Movement made the decision to do all in its power to recover the body of Seamus Ruddy who was disappeared by the INLA in France in 1985 and had sent several delegations to France over a ten year period. We liaised with the Ruddy family and engaged  with the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains but unfortunately we were unsuccessful. The disappearing of Seamus Ruddy was wrong and was indeed a stain on our Movement’s history.

The INLA for its part did, by and large, become the subservient body within the RSM, learning from its past mistakes and went about implementing Ta’s recommendations. This and many other political  factors eventually led to the INLA disposing of weapons and explosive materials to representatives of the Trade Unions, Community Sector and an international body known as Dialogue Advisory Group. The full account, the thinking and motivations behind this move was never fully publicly disclosed and is really a story for a different day than today.

The Way Forward

Survival as an organisation for 40yrs can be a cause for celebration in itself particularly given what we went through but a revolutionary movement must do more than simply survive. Accordingly, the pressing concern for the RSM as it celebrates 40yrs in existence is “where do we go from here and how do we get there?”

I’m going to finish off on this theme by quoting an extract from a part of Ta’s critique which focused on structure and the way forward:

“We can look back and see that we have not been successful in building either a solid socialist party, or a military machine capable of sustaining an effective military campaign. Our task here is to ask why the movement has not involved and developed into that which it had the potential to be in late 1974.

The task we have set ourselves is enormous because the (short) history of this movement, (a mere 12 years,) has been plagued with inner turmoil and internal problems. So in a sense the question – Why has the movement not (evolved), developed and fulfilled its early potential? – could be answered in two short words: “INTERNAL TURMOIL”!

That is the accurate answer but it is not adequate or sufficient, for the objective here is merely an attempt to understand the past, so that we may analyse the present and then we can influence the future! It is simply not desirable, for reasons and considerations, to carry out a detailed, day-to-day history of the movement.

Our central theme, focus and concentration will be that of STRUCTURE and we will not get bogged down with the individuals, personalities or groups who have staffed this structure over the years. Mention may be made of individuals, but only in the context of structure. Structure is the very essence, because everything [revolves] around, depends upon and springs from the very structural make up of the movement.

If there are structural defects or weaknesses, they do not easily manifest themselves as such; rather, they tend to be manifested in different forms, which disguise their origin, such as lack of internal democracy, lack of coherency and autocratic individuals. But, all those problems can ultimately, be traced back and found to originate from STRUCTURAL DEFECTS.

So if structure is incorrect, many internal problems will follow, but if the structure is correct, then the path should be smoother. Structure is the framework, or skeleton, around which the movement organises. We can list the concepts, each interrelated and interdependent on the other, which form the basis of a structure. The ten points are as follows:

1: Politics in command

2: Internal democracy

3: Absolute legitimacy

4: Collective Leadership

5: Central authority

6: Coherency

7: Accountability

8: Discipline

9: Efficiency

10: Effectiveness

The essential point to be grasped here is that point 1 is the rock, the basis from which everything else stems, so if this is wrong, then all the other points will be retarded and that’s where things are seen to break down, where the cracks appear and problems occur.”

So with that in mind comrades let us go forward and build a Republican Socialist revolutionary party which is effective, efficient, disciplined, accountable, coherent, with central legitimate authority with a collective leadership with internal democracy and most importantly with politics in command.”

 

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Policing and Justice address to Ard-Fheis 2014 by Mícheál Mac Lochlainn

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POLICING AND JUSTICE

 

 

Comrades I’d like to start by quoting directly from the IRSPs political document, Perspectives on the Future of Republican Socialism in Ireland on the topic of policing.

 
“The Irish Republican Socialist Party views the cosmetic exercise of changing the name of the RUC, the replacement of the badge, with one designed to reflect all so called “traditions” , the establishment of so-called “District Policing Partnerships” and the strategy of engaging with local communities as a cynical exercise to normalise a discredited and unpopular paramilitary force. The IRSP rejects the attempt to force this arm of the state on the wider community and calls for the establishment of an unarmed, all Ireland Police Service subject to democratic control by the working class. The Irish Republican Socialist Party fully accepts and understands that there may be circumstances when contact with the PSNI or Garda is an inevitable consequence of the unsatisfactory nature of the society in which we live. However the IRSP warns the community as a whole that the downside of such contact will be the increase of police informers with the PSNI attempting to make the policing institutions more acceptable through a normalising of relations by their involvement in day-to-day community activities. “

 
Policing should be, on the face of it, an easy topic to discuss for Republican Socialists but as in all politics, and indeed life, nothing is as black and white as we would like it to be.

 
In my opinion no one is, or no one will ever, call for the Irish Republican Socialist Party to support either the Garda or the Police Service of Northern Ireland. It’s simply off the table as it is and always will be ideologically impossible for the Irish Republican Socialist Party to publically or privately support any institution of the imperialist occupation.

 
To even attempt to change the IRSPs position on policing someone would have to get up in front of a full Ard Fheis and convince a majority of the Party to support the protectors of private property and guardians of the capitalist institutions. It’s not going to happen.

 
The difficulty for the IRSP lies in engaging in community politics, trade unionism and other arenas of struggle, where contact with the PSNI or Garda is inevitable, whilst never forgetting the fact that we are a party of the working class, tackling issues and pushing a republican socialist political agenda with the aim of overthrowing capitalist society.

 
The Police are the enforcers of capitalist society who will smash your head on a picket line one minute but be your friendly community cop the next. We must never forget what that uniform represents; it represents the occupation the ruling elite and the British monarchy as that’s who they inevitably serve.

 
We cannot properly discuss political policing in Ireland without referencing the Hearts and Minds strategy outlined by British Army Intelligence officer Frank Kitson, in his book Low Intensity Operations, Subversion, Insurgency and Peace Keeping, released in 1971.

 
Kitson articulates the strategy and the importance of intelligence gathering, the targeting of individuals, psychological operations and propaganda aimed at the identification and removal of armed groups and the pacification of the working class. While reading Kitson it’s easy to understand the pacification process that lead to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

 
Kitsons tactics quoted directly here can be applied to understand what happened in the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement, Kitson said.

 
“In practical terms the most promising line of approach lies in separating the mass of those engaged in the campaign from the leadership by the promise of concessions, at the same time imposing a period of calm by the use of government forces backed up by statements to the effect that most of the concessions can only be implemented once the life of the country returns to normal. Although with an eye to world opinion, and to the need to retain the allegiance of the people, no more force than is necessary for containing the situation should be used, conditions can be made reasonably uncomfortable for the population as a whole, in order to provide an incentive for a return to normal life and to act as a deterrent towards a resumption of the campaign.”

 
Kitson continued.

 
“Having once succeeded in providing a breathing space by these means, it is most important to do three further things quickly. The first is to implement the promised concessions quickly so as to avoid allegations of bad faith which may enable the subversive element to regain control over certain sections of the people. The second is to discover and neutralise the subversive element. The third is to associate as many prominent members of the population, especially those who have been engaged in non- violent action, with the government.”

 
The subsequent eventual rise of republican ex-combatants, who could be termed “doves”, to prominent positions in the occupational government in Stormont, and their calls for the support of the PSNI by republican communities, while constantly marginalising and discrediting “the hawks”, is testimony to the use of Kitsons strategy in Ireland.
What makes anyone think the same type of divide and conquer strategy is not being implemented in republican/nationalist community’s everyday by the PSNI and indeed MI5.

 
The PSNI and MI5 are winning the war with smiles, waves and lollipops. And we are all stuck like rabbits in the headlights watching it happen in disbelief.

 
All policing in Ireland is strategic, intelligence led and political we witness it in the actions of the PSNI and Garda. On one side of the coin they can turn on the charm offensive and some police officers may even be genuinely nice people. But on the other side of the coin they will be the instrument of state repression planting evidence, protecting private business and framing anyone who opposes the inherent injustice of the capitalist state.

 
The PSNI and Garda will harass young families, heavily handily raid homes, constantly stop and search Republicans, recruit informers and most importantly they will break their own so called laws in a heartbeat just to make your life and the life of your families that bit more difficult.

 
They will marginalise the revolutionary message by leaking propaganda to the media calling republicans and socialist’s drug dealers and criminals. They work hand in hand with MI5 at every level and as history in Ireland has proven they will assassinate the political opponents of the state when all else fails.

 
I will finish with policing for a moment and move onto Justice and the Judiciary and how it is used to persecute political opponents of the occupation and the Irish Free State.

 
To quote on Justice and the Judiciary directly from the IRSPs political document, Perspectives on the Future of Republican Socialism in Ireland it says.

 
“The Irish Republican Socialist Party recognises the danger of believing that there is such a thing as an “independent” judiciary or an objective judicial system. It needs to be clearly understood that the judiciary North and South presides over laws which were enacted by partitionist governments and as the state is the state of the ruling class, by definition the judiciary is also viewed as representing the interests of the ruling class. The Irish Republican Socialist Party also notes with concern the continued presence of extra-judicial MI5 in the North and calls for an immediate cessation of their activities in Ireland and their immediate expulsion from Ireland.”

 
Since the year 2000 the British government has passed 11 acts of legislation aimed at dealing with political discontent and the individuals the State deems involved. From these 11 acts of legislation the British State has tried to enact 38 new special powers and definitions of offences to be used by the State against anyone it sees fit to target.

 
Since 2000 the period of detention for questioning suspects can be held for has risen from 7 days to 14 days in 2003 to 28 days since 2006 with the British Government being defeated in 2008 while trying to rise the days of detention to 42. Since 2000 the period the PSNI can “legally” or illegally as we would say detain you for questioning has risen by 400%, a worrying trend.

 
These acts of legislation also gave the PSNI the powers to stop and search persons and vehicles without cause leading to widespread targeted abuse and harassment of republicans.

 
The acts of legislation allow the questioning of republicans after they have been charged, the freezing of assets, new charges against “glorifying terrorism”, that’s the State definition of Terrorism, which means anything they want it to mean, from handing out a political leaflet to a politically motivated post on your Facebook or Twitter, remember these are the same people who once called for the hanging of Nelson Mandela as a Terrorist.

 
The acts of legislation allow the tracking of those charged with a political offence to be monitored like a sex offender and they allow full access to your texts, emails, calls and any other digital foot print you leave behind.

 
Since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement they have been putting their extra ordinary powers of arrest and detention to use, Maghaberry is full of republicans who are “selectively interned” and MI5 constantly monitors the contact the political prisoners have with their friends and family.

 
They have been caught planting forensic evidence, interning republicans on remand, using past charges of a political nature to whip anyone who comes into their cross hairs of the streets. And they are able to portray themselves as the good guys, comrades we are not exposing their web of human rights abuses properly.

 
The Free States so called Special Criminal Courts and Judiciary record is not much better than the British, sometimes worse.

 
Since 1939 they have been interning political activists on the sole word of an unaccountable Garda Superintendent. They have been caught on countless occasions lying under oath and framing the innocent.

 
Garda even got away with beating young working class men from Dublin’s inner city to death in Garda cells, where is the justice for those young men’s families? Whose only “crime” was to be brought up in a certain set of socio-economic circumstances?

 
The United Nations Commission for Human Rights, Amnesty International and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties have all publically criticised the Human Rights abuses in the Special Criminal Court yet it has fallen on deaf ears.
The message that these blatant abuses send us is that the Irish Free State Judiciary and all other institutions are un-reformable and exist to protect the State and its ruling class. Seamus Costello’s words “we need to destroy the public’s confidence in the institutions of capitalism” have never been more relevant.

 
The entire Irish judiciary is built around the culture of control. It is driven by its inherently right wing Catholic outlook; it is extremely punitive always seeking its pound of flesh, this mindset needs to be broken.

 
The Irish judiciary has no problem in evicting elderly tenants from their home for rent arrears or jailing people who have fallen behind on the electricity bills. When a young mother froze to death in her Dublin apartment not one proper credible investigation took place to ask how, in this day and age, something like this could happen.

 
The Garda and Judiciary will side with the bosses and the “big money men” ten times out of ten. It has and will again send its Garda to break picket lines and assault striking workers.

 
The PSNI or the Garda Soihcána are not workers, they should never be treated like workers, they are state sponsored scabs, paid to protect capitalism.

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Ard-Fheis Pháirtí Poblachtach Sóisialach na hÉireann 2014

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Ard-Fheis Pháirtí Poblachtach Sóisialach na hÉireann 2014

The Irish Republican Socialist Party marked its 40th anniversary Ard Fheis by holding it for the first time in Strabane CoTyrone.
The IRSP used the 2014 Ard Fheis to show case our progressive political programme to maximise the political capacity of its membership and identify potential for the growth of the Irish Republican Socialist Party. These three topics were geared towards promoting the full participation of all invited delegates with observers, for the first time, being able to contribute from the floor to the motions debates.
The political programme for the Ard Fheis was built around our Perspectives on the Future of Republican Socialism in Ireland document. All discussions and debate over the course of the Ard Fheis were themed from existing topics in the Perspectives document.

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The day began with comrade Eddie McGarrigle of the standing orders committee giving a presentation setting the tone and outlining the Ard Fheis themes.

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Comrade Tommy Kelly then delivered a short message of solidarity to the Ard Fheis from the Republican Socialist political prisoners in Caslterea Co Roscommon .
A speech from Comrade Dominic McGlinchy themed “Towards the Republic” was then read out by his brother Declan.

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Mr McGlinchey said.

“We have spent our whole lives aspiring to what some might call a pipe dream, the establishing of a 32 county socialist republic. We have watched the generation of men and women much older than I go from young adults to middle age and in other cases leave this earth as they came into it under the heal of the oppressor “.

“Do we really think its a pipe dream that we have nothing better to be doing? I for one don’t as do many other of us out there. What I do think is how we approach the building of a movement of people who will set about establishing a 32 county socialist republic will have to change. Different times demand different tactics. What have we learned from our past? That the answer lays in the future, no more glorious failures. We cannot afford to burden the next generation with the baggage and ghosts of our collective past”.

Mr McGlinchey continues “As we move forward it is not good enough to pay lip service to the struggle to hide behind a particular hat on a particular day this movement must be led by the party the revolutionary van guard of the struggle. It has to be accepted that fatigue has set in; some have a lot of miles on clock along the road of political struggle many years spent in gaol it is hard to keep dusting yourself down keep getting up again and continuing on”.

“We must challenge ourselves once again get out of our comfort zones, educate our youth agitate on the ground in the towns and cities across this country. In rural Ireland we need to see where we can be effective on the on the ground this can become a breeding ground for new activists. We must make new policies that relate to those that live in these areas and then act upon these. It is a battle for the hearts and minds and this must start in the parishes and town lands across our country house by house family by family we must make ourselves relevant in daily lives of the people who live there”.

“How do we do this, we help were we can, we cannot fix all the worlds ills straight away but a start must be made. Taking into account this movement has limited resources. We must challenge ourselves to get out there to find new ways of getting our message across and listen to what is happening on the ground”.

“We will have to piggy back on other bodies to expand our movement it will bring us at times to places that might make us uncomfortable but the expansion of our movement is paramount .In every facet of society we must make our presence felt , it is our absence that will be our weakness, we will not be defined by a tricolour a red flag or a starry plough it is our actions and our politics that will define the men and women of this movement and that will leave a lasting positive legacy for future generations” .

“Our strength is that our cause is a noble and just and we must do everything in our power to protect that. At times we must take risks but these must be calculated, a path must be forged and a plan must be made. The IRSP needs to be re-established right across the island, this could be done in many ways first and foremost more Cumman. This could quite easily be expanded right across the globe to other likeminded activists reaping massive rewards for the movement. As said earlier our action shall define us and if we bring discipline into everything we do the working class will gravitate towards us”.

Mr McGlinchey finishes “A new beginning, a new start ,a republic must be built from the ground up everyone one of us must leave our mark on it, Connolly told us the cause of Ireland is the cause of labour and the cause of labour is the cause of Ireland . I come to this movement late enough in life many might say to late I say better late than never but I feel I have came home to my spiritual home where I belong. I am as determined now as I have ever been I have an inner belief passed down to me through my mother and father and theirs before them that we can win and that we must. I like to wish you all the best and I look forward to working with you all to turn our dreams into reality”.

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Comrade Martin McMonagle then delivered the key note speech from the outgoing Ard Comhairle. During the address Mr McMonegal gave an honest account of the failures and success of the outgoing Ard Comhairle and how the IRSP intends to fulfill its full potential in the years to come.
After the mornings presentations the outgoing Ard Comhairle stepped down and the Ard Fheis began with motions being proposed and debated. After on the day standing orders committee amendments to the Clár there were 63 motions to be debated.
Some of the motions debated and passed included;
Fracking
Fracking is a process that allows the exploitation of shale gas and oil for energy use. The institutions of Capitalism see this as a quick fix to shore up immediate energy supplies and allow big business corporations to turn a quick profit. However, experts and environmental organisations oppose such moves. Fracking causes earthquakes and contaminates the ground water which in turn contaminates the supplies which feed human drinking water which ranges from chemical contamination to radioactive contamination.
That Ard Fheis states its opposition the destruction of the environment through Fracking. And that the Irish Republican Socialist Party draws up plans for a campaign against Fracking wherever it is proposed in Ireland. Conference also sends its solidarity to those activists, from the various anti Fracking campaigns across Ireland, currently involved in actions against the use of Fracking.
Migrant Workers
Ard Fheis recognises and welcomes the contribution made by migrant workers and their families to both the economy and society. The Irish Republican Socialist Party is opposed to the exploitation of migrant workers through unfair pay and conditions in the work place. We also oppose the under cutting of local labour by business people through the exploitation of migrant workers. Ard Fheis supports positive actions to create unity rather than division between the working class.
Attacks on Migrant Workers
Ad Fheis condemns all attacks on migrant workers and the right wing media frenzy that encourages them. The recent spate of racist attacks on migrant workers is nothing short of a disgrace on modern Ireland. The IRSP states that when racist organisations or organisations affiliated to them hold public events we should physically oppose them on the streets. There should be no place on this island for racists to hide.
Attacks on the Disabled
Ard Fheis call for an IRSP campaign to oppose the endless rounds of assessments disabled people are currently forced go through by the capitalist state. If a worker is disabled he/she should be comfortably taken care of by society. Not made to grovel for disability assistance and continuously humiliate themselves in front of so called “medical professionals” at assessments.
Ethnic minorities
Ard Fheis recognises the positive contribution made to society by the diverse ethnic minorities in Ireland. The IRSP needs to make membership and recruitment tactics more open and transparent to attract people from ethnic minorities.
Boycott Israeli Goods
Ard Fheis calls on the incoming Ard Comhairle to coordinate an IRSP nationwide mobilisation on the issue of Boycotting Israeli goods. It’s time for us to step up the boycott campaign. Israel may have the full backing of the US and the EU but the vast majority of people in the world are with the Palestinians. Boycotts brought down the apartheid state in South Africa and they can do the same here.
Oppose the two state solution in Palestine
Ard Fheis states that the Irish Republican Socialist Party refuses to recognise the legitimacy of the Zionist Israeli State. There can never be peace in Palestine while the Zionist Israeli State continues to exist. The IRSP supports calls for a People’s Democratic Arab Workers Republic of Palestine. We support calls for a Palestinian State in which Arabs and Jews would live together without discrimination. We support a Palestinian State without classes and national oppression. We support a Palestinian State which allows Arabs and Jews to develop their national cultures equally.
Forge better links with International anti Imperialist groups
Ard Fheis recognises that our struggle for national liberation and socialism in Ireland is part of a much larger international struggle for socialism and against imperialism. We call on the incoming Ard Comhairle to forge working relationships with all other groups across the world involved in struggles for national liberation and socialism.
Living Wage
Ard Fheis recognises the damage such a low minimum wage is doing by keeping workers living in Poverty. The current minimum wage contributes to the widening gap between the rich and the working class. The current minimum wage is driving workers and their families to humiliate themselves by using food banks. Ard Fheis calls on the incoming Ard Comhairle to set in motion plans to create a policy on a Living Wage.
Annual Policy Conference
Ard Fheis recognises the need for an annual IRSP conference on party policy. This is needed to stop any internal reformist thought and to rededicate ourselves once a year to our revolutionary struggle for national liberation and socialism in Ireland. This Policy conference should include annual reports to the membership from both the IRSP and Teach Na Failte.
European Union
Ard Fheis calls on the IRSP to step up its campaigning for a withdrawal from the Pro -Austerity Neo-Liberal European Union. The Irish Republican Socialist Party recognizes that Irish working people have nothing to gain from the European Union only more servitude and economic occupation.

Policy

This Ard Fheis calls for the lifting of all legal barriers in terms of LGBT rights such as marriage, adoption and the right to give blood.

Women
This Ard Fheis calls on the incoming Ard Comhairle to put measures in place in order to address the gender imbalance within the IRSP.

This Ard Fheis calls for the ending of all gender discrimination in society in terms of recruitment and salaries.

Trade Unionism

This Ard Fheis re-affirms the party’s position that every member of the party should be a member of a trade union.

Publicity

This Ard Fheis calls on the incoming Ard Comhairle to explore all avenues of getting the IRSP message out to wider society with a renewed effort and printing local and national materials and a particular focus on social media.

Political Prisoners

This Ard Fheis sends solidarity greetings to all anti-imperialist political prisoners in Ireland and abroad

Education

This Ard Fheis calls on the incoming Ard Comhairle to make the Perspectives Document a basis for internal education.

International

This Ard Fheis sends solidarity greetings and support to our comrades in Gaza following yet another Israeli invasion.

Policing

This Ard Fheis directs that no-one representing the Republican Socialist Movement have any official dealings with the PSNI or any of their proxies such as local policing boards.

Ta Power
Ard fheis calls for the the IRSP Ard Comhairle and at all other structural levels makes a commitment to transparently implement in full the central tenets contained in the Ta Power Document which to this day remains the party’s most in depth, honest critique and blueprint for progess. Furthermore, that the IRSP address fully any of the contradictions outlined in the dissertation and re-assert the ten principles Ta outlined as essential to the growth of the party as an effective revolutionary movement:
Activism
Ard fheis ensures that every member of the IRSP plays a role, according to their abilities and circumstances, in the political activities of the party. As a Marxist, Republican Socialist party, we can not afford political passengers
Sectarian Parades
Ard fheis calls for the party to actively oppose all sectarian, supremacist marches that are unwanted and opposed in working class areas. We recognise Loyalism, Orangeism and Unionism as instruments of imperialism, as fascist entities and whose raison d’etre has always been as a divisive bulwark against working class unity.
During the intervals in the Ard Fheis debate we had lectures on different topics from IRSP members.

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Comrade Michael McLaughlin from Strabane presented a lecture on “Policing and Justice in Ireland”.

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Comrade Eoin Campbell from Derry City gave a lecture on “Redefining the Broad Front”.
Páidi Ó Madáin gave a lecture on “Revolutionary Trade Unionism”.

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Comrade Willie Gallagher made the final contribution, just before the election of the new Ard Comhairle, giving a lecture on 40 years of Republican Socialism in Ireland.
The entire Ard Fheis then stood in silence as the Republican Socialist Movements Roll of Honour was read aloud by Belfast’s Seán Carlin.

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Seamus Costello Commemoration – Bray Saturday 4th October

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“Of all the politicians and political people with whom I have had conversations, and whom I have had conversations, and who called themselves followers of Connolly, he was the only one who truly understood what James Connolly meant when he spoke of his vision of the freedom of the Irish people.”  (Nora Connolly, daughter of James Connolly, speaking of Seamus Costello shortly after his assassination)

Seamus Costello:
One of the Greatest Leaders in 800 Years

(originally published in An Camcheachta/The Starry Plough,
the official newspaper of the IRSP, October 1977)

Seamus Costello was born in Old Connaught Avenue, Bray, County Wicklow in 1939. He attended Ravenswell National School in Bray. In 1950, at the age of eleven, he moved with his family to Roseville on the Dublin. Road in Bray. There were nine in his family, Seamus being the eldest.

His first interest in politics came when he read of the arrest of Cathal Goulding in Britain in 1953 following an arms raid on the Officers Training Corps School at Felstead in Essex. Costello subsequently “devoured” newspapers, according to his family and at the age of 15, on one of his many visits to Croke Park, he bought a copy of the United Irishman and immediately applied to join the Republican Movement. However, he was told to “come back next year”. Costello did and was accepted into the ranks of the IRA and Sinn Fein.

The first Sinn Fein Cumann was started in Bray in the same year, comprised mostly from members of the Dun Laoghaire Cumann, their activity confined to ‘United Irishman’ sales. However, it wasn’t long before it was being sold in every area in Co. Wicklow.

COMMANDED ACTIVE SERVICE UNIT

 

During the campaign of 1956-62 Costello, at the age of 17 commanded an active service unit in South Derry, their most publicised actions being the destruction of bridges and the burning of Magherafelt Courthouse. Those under his command described him as strict but radiating confidence. Once while resting in a safe house a grenade exploded and set off the full magazine of a Thomson machine gun. Miraculously no one was killed. Costello took the brunt of the explosion and was knocked unconscious. He received back injuries and lost half a finger and was moved back to Dublin for treatment.

He was arrested in Glencree Co. Wicklow, in 1957 and sentenced to six months in Mountjoy. On his release he was immediately interned in the Curragh for two years. Costello, as a prisoner, was described by fellow internees as quiet, rarely Joining others in playacting, preferring deep discussion and reading. He was a member of the escape committee which engineered the successful escape of Rory Brady and Daithi O’Connell amongst others. He is remembered by one internee reading Vietnamese magazines and it impressed Costello that peasants badly armed but with a deep political ideology could defeat their enemies. In later years he always referred to his days in the Curragh as ³my university days². He took part in the critical analysis of the 50¹s campaign, agreeing that it had failed due to lack of popular involvement as distinct from popular support.

HELPED RE-ORGANISE REPUBLICAN MOVEMENT

On the ending of internment in 1959 Costello assisted in the re-organising of the Republican Movement or as Costello put it “the cars started flying around again”.

In 1962 he took up a job as a car salesman and, indicative his drive and strong personality had little trouble in becoming salesman of the year of his firm. He successfully fought an attempt to sack him because of his political affiliations by threatening to stay outside his firm’s offices everyday until he was reinstated.

BUILT A STRONG LOCAL BASE

Meanwhile he began to build a strong local base in Co. Wicklow. He maintained that Republicans should build a strong home base and that these could then be linked up together at a future date. He also became full time political organiser for Wicklow at this period and developed a strong link with every conceivable organisation in Wicklow that dealt with the interests of the working class. He managed to involve the Bray Trades Council in the 1966 Easter Commemoration and helped found a strong Tenants Association in Bray. He also became involved with the Credit Union movement and farmers’ organisations. During this period (1964) he married a Tipperary woman Maeliosa who became active in the Republican Movement.

HISTORIC ORATION

In 1966 he gave the historic oration at the Wolfe Tone Commemoration in Bodenstown which marked the departure of the left of the Republican Movement, the result of years of discussions within the Movement ably assisted by Costello.

“We believe that the large estates of absentee landlords should be acquired by compulsory acquisition and worked on a cooperative basis with the financial and technical assistance of the State… our policy is to nationalise the key industries with the eventual aim of co-operative ownership by the workers… nationalisation of all banks, insurance companies, loan and investment companies…”

But Costello always maintained not only the right to use armed force but the necessity for workers to be armed and this remained his position up to his assassination. “The lesson of history shows that in the final analysis the Robber Baron must be disestablished by the same methods that he used to enrich himself and retain his ill gotten gains, namely force of arms. To this end we must organise, train and maintain a disciplined armed force which will always be available to strike at the opportune moment” (Bodenstown 1966).

ELECTION VICTORY

He pushed for Sinn Fein to contest the local election of 1967 in selected areas and he stood with Joe Doyle in Bray. Indicative of his organisational abilities is the fact that not only were Sinn Fein the only political party to canvass every house in Bray but they won two seats on Bray Urban Council, one on Wicklow Co. Council and collected more money during the election than they had actually spent during the campaign.

At Council Meetings Costello and Doyle always put their Cumann’s views in accordance with what had been decided at their meetings. A strong attempt was always made to involve the people’s organisations in any controversy or local issue.

Costello headed huge deputations of local organisations to Council meetings and demanded they be heard. He demanded the public not be barred from Council meetings. So insistent was he that unsuccessful moves were made to have him removed from the Council. He became involved in all local problems; housing, road repairs, water and sewerage, access to local beaches, land speculation etc. and such national issues as ground rents, the anti-EEC campaign, anti-repression campaigns, natural resources, the national question etc.

INVOLVED THE MASSES

Meanwhile Costello and Sinn Fein continued to build their strong links with local bodies always striving to show them their own strength while getting overall republican socialist policies across.

HELPED FORM N.I.C.R.A.

Nationally, Costello had pushed hard for the establishment of the Northern Irish Civil Rights- Association -to involve the mass of. the Northern workers in the- struggle. The: beginning saw some protestant involvement but with the orange card being played, brutality, murder and open repression the campaign changed through the years to a mainly nationalist campaign for national liberation. Costello, unlike many of the other leaders in the Republican Movement, was willing to accept changing situations and adapt, rather than insist that the struggle must be confined to a pre-laid pattern irrespective of the realities and holding back the struggle for national liberation.

 

A PEACE-MAKER DURING SPLITS

Costello stayed with what became known as the Official Republican Movement in the split of 1969-70 which gave birth to the Provisionals. It was not that he disagreed with the struggle for national liberation and a British withdrawal but that he saw it as a struggle that must take place side by side with the class struggle in the entire country, something the Provos were not to even admit until 1977. Even at this stage Costello showed his willingness to do all in his power to unite the Republican Movement and was in correspondence with Dick Roche and Sean Cronin who were acting as intermediaries.

COSTELLO FORMS IRSP

The change in policy in the Republican Movement from 1965 had seen the movement’s involvement throughout the 32 counties in popular struggles, such as housing, ground rents, fisheries, industrial disputes etc. Military actions had been taken in some cases: against foreign (mainly German) land owners in the midlands, against a lobster boat the Mary Catherine (“to protect the Irish shellfishing industry”), against buses carrying scab workers in Shannon, against a mine in support of strikers, against land speculators, rackman landlords etc. These actions were not meant to be a substitute for involvement in the national question but part of the same struggle.

The Officials, however began to abandon such actions in the South and eventually in the North with the ceasefire of 1972. Costello maintained before his assassination that he should have broken away at this stage and not waited until 1974. The two years in question were taken up with Costello fighting a rearguard action to have accepted policy implemented while a section of the leadership implemented their own policies, oblivious to Ard Fheis wishes. Disillusionment set in in the rank and file with many dropping out while a witchhunt began of all dissidents, orchestrated by this clique in the leadership. Eventually Costello was charged with irregularities at the 1973 Ard Fheis and tried by Sinn Fein. He was found not guilty. However the Official IRA tried him on similar charges, with the exact same evidence (ensuring Costello’s witnesses didn’t turn up) and found him guilty. They dismissed him “with ignomy”. Meanwhile Sinn Fein suspended him, despite their having found him not guilty. He was refused permission to stand in the local election of 1974. Costello knew he was finished with the Officials and stood as an Independent Sinn Fein Candidate as he began to organise the setting up of a new party that would entwine the class question and national question as one struggle. He topped the polls for Wicklow County Council and Bray Urban Council where he was immensely popular, being a member of the Wicklow Agricultural Committee and President of Brays Trade Council. The leadership of the Officials were dismayed by victory. He was nevertheless dismissed (“general unsuitability”) from Sinn Fein at the Ard Fheis of 1974, memorable for its undemocratic procedures (delegates refused entry at the door because they supported Costello etc.).

In December 1974 Costello along with other disillusioned republicans and socialists, many with years of involvement in the Republican Movement at leadership level and with a deep involvement at local level formed a new political party. There immediately followed mass resignations from the Officials from all over the country, North and South. Entire Cumainn came over. And so was born the Irish Republican Socialist Party named after James Connolly’s party of 1896. The word ‘Republican’ was deliberately put first to emphasise the struggle for national liberation, a struggle that was being abandoned by most organisations claiming the title of ‘socialist’.

BLOODY BAPTISM

There had existed a minority opinion in the leadership of the Officials at the time of the Provo split who felt that Provos should have been crushed. The growth of the Provos merely strengthened this opinion. The Officials decided to employ this tactic against the IRSP and picked Belfast to launch their campaign of murder, driving the IRSP into hiding: Costello, who always had a deep appreciation of the damage of feuds and the demoralisation it would cause throughout the anti-imperialist movement, sought mediation with the Officials who refused. Eventually, Michael Mullen, head of Costello’s union the ITGWU, acted as mediator and the Officials called off their murder campaign, mainly due to their bad showing in the Galway bye-election and the Northern Ireland Convention election. The feud had seriously effected the growth of the IRSP and stopped most resignations from the Officials. Three IRSP members were dead and scores injured. Indeed a bloody baptism for the IRSP.

STATE CONSPIRACY AGAINST IRSP

In the 26 Counties the state was bent on destroying the IRSP culminating in the arrest of Costello along with over 40 IRSP members supporters and relatives in April 1976. Nine were severely tortured and six framed with the robbery of a train in Co. Kildare. Costello pushed the IRSP to sue the State and brought Amnesty International’s first involvement in Ireland when they demanded “a full and independent inquiry” in May 1976 into the arrest of IRSP members and their ill-treatment.

Costello always maintained that there existed a state conspiracy to smash the IRSP and the IRSP has ample evidence to prove this charge.

COSTELLO’S LEADERSHIP

During Seamus Costello’s leadership of the IRSP, he was attempting to building a strong republican socialist party that would entwine the national and class questions as one struggle. He sought to involve the IRSP in all the struggles of the Irish people; trade union work, housing, fisheries, the struggle for women’s emancipation, the national question, the struggle of small farmers, tenants, the cultural struggle, sovereignty, the struggle for control over our natural resources and the struggle against repression etc. While the IRSP was suffering from the Official’s murder campaign and state harassment it was difficulty for the IRSP to make much headway in these struggles although it was involved in all of them to some extent.

Costello always felt anti-imperialist unity was of the utmost importance and worked hard for it. He was the main person behind the Broad Front talks that took place between anti-imperialist groups throughout 1977, although they failed to form a Broad Front.

OPPOSED INDEPENDENT ULSTER

He was the only leader of national importance that totally opposed unprincipled talks with Loyalists on any agenda other than 32 County Socialist Republic and he totally rejected an Independent Ulster as a “solution” to the Irish or the Ulster question. He could speak to Dublin’s unemployed, Derry’s harassed population, or Wicklow’s farmers and reach them all. No struggle of the working class was too insignificant for his involvement and despite his national commitments, his organisational duties as full time IRSP political organiser, he always found time to honour his commitment to his constituents in Co. Wicklow.

At the time of his assassination [Dublin, 5 Ocotober 1977] he was member of the following bodies: Wicklow County Council, County Wicklow Committee of Agriculture, General Council of Committees of Agriculture, Eastern Regional Development Organisation, National Museum Development Committee, Bray Urban District Council, Bray Branch of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, Bray and District Trade Unions Council (of which he was president 1976-77), the Cualann Historical Society, Chairman Irish Republican Socialist Party. From the period between 1964 and 1974 he held the positions of Adj. General, Chief of Staff and Director of Operations in the Official IRA and the position of Vice-President of Official Sinn Fein.

Posted in Commemorations, James Connolly, Seamus Costello | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Belfast IRSM’s New Mural In Support of the Besieged People of Gaza

IRSM's new mural in support of the people of Gaza

IRSM’s new mural in support of the people of Gaza

A striking new mural in support of the besieged people of Gaza and condemning Zionist imperialist aggression against the Palestinian people acting as the USA’s war-dog in the middle-east, was painted recently by local Irish Republican Socialist Party activists in Belfast.

Speaking at the site of the new mural, Belfast IRSP spokesperson, Alex McGuigan, stated, “the mural in solidarity with the victims of the most recent Israeli war machine’s massacres in Gaza is situated on Northumberland Street, close to the ‘International Wall’ at the corner of Divis, has already attracted scores of visitors from overseas and closer to home.”

The Belfast IRSP spokesperson continued, “in short, based on the premise that a ‘picture is worth a thousand words’, the IRSM’s new mural cleverly manages to show our solidarity with the Palestinian people and condemns the imperialist outrages of both apartheid Israel and it’s sponsors, the USA’s military-industrial complex. Congratulations are of course due to the local activists for this cleverly designed, poignant mural.”

 

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Posted in Gaza, International, Murals, Palestine

IRSP calls for “internal dialogue within republicanism” in Strabane

 

The Irish Republican Socialist Party is calling for “internal dialogue within republicanism” in Strabane . The various republican political parties need to discuss and debate the local way forward in dealing with the key anti social problems our town faces.

Mícheál MacLochlainn spokesperson for Strabane IRSP said “All the strands and opinions of republicanism as a collective have never honestly engaged with each other on the issue of seriously tackling the key anti social problems faced in the town. The lack of internal engagement and dialogue within republicanism has created a vacuum in which shootings, beatings and expulsions have become the knee jerk reactions used to deal with individuals involved in elements of anti community behavior”.

Mr MacLochlainn finishes “By not engaging in dialogue and debate republicans are allowing the PSNI to set the agenda by felon setting republicanism as a negative and brutal influence on our communities. They use these vulnerable youths engaged in anti community actions as agents and sources of information for their own nefarious ends. Internal dialogue within republicanism to formulate a collective response to these issues is the only way forward”.

Posted in Uncategorized

INLA Hunger Striker Mickey Devine’s 33rd Anniversary Today

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On the 20th August 1981, 33 years ago today, Irish National Liberation Army volunteer Mickey Devine was the tenth and last Irish Republican POW to give his life on Hunger Strike.  Mickey Devine gave his life for the right to be treated as a political prisoner and he was also the third and last of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) prisoners to die on Hunger Strike.

Mickey Devine’s nickname was ‘Red Mick’ due to his red hair but it was also indicative of his Left-wing beliefs as he was a founding member of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) in his home city of Derry.  The arms procurement operation that Mickey Devine was arrested for and for which he received 12 years imprisonment in the H Blocks also involved his Derry INLA comrade and fellow Hunger Striker Patsy O’Hara, who had given his life just a month before Mickey Devine commenced his fast.  Ironically, it has been said that the INLA unit in Derry to which both Mickey Devine and Patsy O’Hara were attached, were in dire need of weaponry not just to prosecute the guerrilla struggle but also to protect members of the Republican Socialist Movement from attacks from hostile elements within the leadership of the Provisional IRA in the city who were centred around the current Deputy Prime Minister of the Stormont partitionist assembly, Martin McGuinness.

Mickey Devine began his Hunger Strike on the 22nd of June 1981, his INLA comrade Kevin Lynch from nearby Dungiven died some 6 weeks later on August 1st. There have been numerous accounts of Mickey Devine’s life, his last days on Hunger Strike and all of them bear testimony to his tremendous courage in the face of death and his willingness to make the supreme sacrifice against the massive resources waged against him by the imperialist enemy.

David Beresford’s ‘Ten Men Dead‘ which many viewed erroneously, as recent events have uncovered, as the definitive account of the 1981 Hunger Strike, was not particularly kind to Mickey Devine’s memory in it’s pen portrait of his life.  Richard O’Rawe, whose book ‘Blanketmen’ controversially exposed the existence of a ‘deal’ which could have saved the lives of perhaps up to 6 of the Hunger Strikers including Mickey Devine’s.  Richard O’Rawe in both his bestselling publications, Blanketmen and Afterlives maintain the life-saving deal offered by the British government via a neutral conduit, was rejected by the Provisionals outside leadership for reasons of political expediency.  A recent Irish Republican Socialist Party inquiry completely vindicated Richard O’Rawe’s version of events and accepted the existence of a deal.

Mickey Devine was described by Richard O’Rawe as follows:

“this poor man – like his nine comrades – was blessed (or damned) with the heart of a lion. He had told Pat Beag that he thought all was lost, yet he chose to forfeit his life rather than end his hunger strike. What naked valour! He had one life, and he gave it for us.

It goes without saying that Mickey Devine, just like his 9 Hunger Striker comrades before him was one of the bravest of the brave! Mickey Devine’s last fight against British imperialism, and the system that sought unsuccessfully to criminalise his actions, ended on the 20th of August 1981. He was only 27 years of age. He was survived by a daughter, Louise and a young son Michael who bore his name. Within 6 weeks, the Hunger Strike was officially ended with no further loss of life.

Mickey Devine died as he lived, a proud Irish Republican Socialist and volunteer in the Irish National Liberation Army.  In this the 33rd year since his death, the ideals for which Mickey Devine died, National Liberation and Socialism are still pursued by the Irish Republican Socialist Party that he helped to found in his hometown of Derry.

Thúg sé a beo ag troid ar son Saoirse agus Muintir Na hEireann. I measc Laochra Na nGael go raibh a Anam.

Saoirse go deo!

Posted in Commemorations, Fallen Volunteers, Hunger Strikes