Doomsday budget heralds a total betrayal of the people. Republican Socialism stands vindicated. PPSÉ

 

 

Doomsday budget heralds a total betrayal of the people. Republican Socialism stands vindicated.

Joint statements emanating from both Unionist and Nationalist ministers in Stormont have announced inevitable wholesale cuts to services vital to the health, development and well-being of working class people in the six counties.

Thursday evening’s announcements promise to launch a new era of misery onto the people of the north and will undoubtedly bring only chaos and desperation to already suffering workers, providers and the most vulnerable in our society.

As we prepare to be drip fed the stark reality of what the Stormont government is proposing, we are confident that these moves will bring the six counties into line with the rest of Ireland, uniting our people in a cycle of poverty, dependency and despair, and at the hands of career politicians, who lacking courage and principle, neither speak the truth nor strive for anything better.

The now looming reality of widespread unemployment, downgrading and scarcity which will follow on from these government cutbacks is a far cry from the bright and prosperous future which our people were promised in the wake of the GoodFriday Agreement.

In 1998, the IRSP decided to reject the false economic promises peddled by the propagandists and proponents of the Good Friday Agreement, choosing instead to stand behind the long term truths of our principled Socialist and Revolutionary analysis.

In the light of Stormont’s most deliberate and savage onslaught against our people and our class, we stand fully vindicated in that decision. Constitutional Nationalism and the advocates of reform have again failed our people, and once again the people of no property stand alone.

Tory cutbacks are designed to force upon our people, the unjust and inhumane logic of Capitalism, the politics of greed and eternal economic chaos. Our people shall now suffer further poverty, unemployment and want, all for the short sighted actions of bankers and their wealthy backers in the political elite.

Shamefully and in absolute abandonment of the Republican position, Martin McGuiness has announced his belief that the DUP budget is ‘the best our people could hope for’.

With this appalling and defeatist comment, he hopes to secure a loan from the Tory British treasury, bringing a new realism to the term ‘scrambling for the crumbs off the masters table’.

The IRSP takes this opportunity to call for a new rallying of the Irish working class. Class war has been declared upon you and your families, by those who care nothing for workers or for the welfare of the old, the young the sick or the vulnerable.

As is the case the world over, the wealth of our country lies dormant, hidden away in the bank vaults and accounts of the rich and powerful, meanwhile we are told that we the masses must pay for the actions of the few. This need not be so.

In the spirit of Connolly, Larkin and all those who across the world are out and opposing the evils of austerity, we declare that now must be the time to fight back. We are encouraged by the utterances of the Trade Union movement who at long last are showing signs of a much needed fighting spirit. We ask them to maximise that spirit, to build upon it and prepare for genuine and meaningful struggle.

We call upon our supporters and all Republican Socialists to support them in that task, and to begin the process of mobilising, against these unnecessary and savage cutbacks, and in so doing begin to rebuild the struggle for Irish Socialism and true freedom for our people and our class.

Posted in Uncategorized

Notes on Ta Power – Educational Piece 2

Background

Firstly to explain how the Ta Power document came about, we need to outline a little about Thomas ‘Ta’ Power’s background and his political journey.  At the age of 33, he was assassinated by the IPLO along with John O’Reilly, at the Rossnaree Hotel outside Drogheda. Ironically, he and O’Reilly had gone to the hotel to reach an agreement with the IPLO.   Hailing from from Friendly Street in the Markets area of south Belfast, Ta Power had originally been in the Official IRA but joined the INLA in 1975 while a prisoner in the Cages of  Long Kesh.  Noted for having later spent the longest time on remand (4 years and 4 months) on the word of ‘Supergrass’ Harry Kirkpatrick, he was also held on the evidence of five different Supergrasses, and had just been released from Crumlin Road prison a short time before he was killed.Thomas Power was widely regarded as a theorist and thinker within republican circles and was highly respected within his community and among Republicans belonging to different movements.

The Ta Power document is part history and part analysis on the Republican Socialist Movement.  He also pulls few punches in his analysis and it can be argued he was so bruntly fearless in his critique that he wanted to radicalise the movement into multi-faceted revolutionary political action.

Part one of the document is a broad history of the IRSM, which was formed out of the Official Republican movement in 1974.  In 1969, Power argued that Costello saw the Officials at the time of the ‘split’ as possessing ‘the best possible conditions existing for the development of a revolution movement.” However after the state-sanctioned killing of the militant, Joe McCann, a respected OIRA Volunteer, in 1972 and the ceasefire which followed, Costello stated that should have left the Official Republican movement there and then, instead of trying to work inside the officials and try and change them.  Power believed correctly that Costello hated splits. Costello believed that they led to demoralisation, acrimony and possible feuds. This was not only prophetic in Costello’s analysis but also in Power’s!  Both assassinations, following their respective parting of the ways from former comrades were much to the severe determent of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement.  Seamus Costello formed the IRSP and the INLA at a conference at the Spa Hotel, Lucan in 1974.  Power then points out his analysis as to the difference between the various Republican movements of the time, which are reproduced here:

  • The OFFICIAL’S approach to the national question was basically that it couldn’t be resolved until the Protestant and the Catholic working class “united”, that the six counties could be democratised, that a bill of rights was needed etc.  This position ruled out the national liberation struggle, it ignored the fundamentally sectarian nature of the six county state-let and how the Brits through this maintained their rule and influence over the entire country.
  • PROVISIONALS: At this time they still had a one-sided concentration on the national question, they were still controlled by the old traditional leadership which advocated a “federal solution” which Adams was later to refer to as “a sop to Loyalists.” They concentrated on the military effort to the exclusion of revolutionary socialist politics throughout Ireland. They maintained their abstention position. Costello criticised the Provisional’s for their “elitist and conspiratorial approach” which was no substitute for the development of a peoples struggle.
  • Irish Republican Socialist Party:  Most of the following are the direct words of Seamus Costello, upon outlining the programme of the IRSP, (a) ”we must make no secret of the fact that we are a revolutionary socialist party, prepared to give leadership on the streets as well as in the elected chambers, and that we are out for a socialist republic.”  (b) “Part of that struggle for a Socialist Republic entails resolving the national liberation struggle and ending British imperialist intervention. We stand for the unity of the anti-imperialist struggle and class struggle.”   (c) “What are the vital social issues of the day? Along with the national question there exist many strands to the anti-imperialist struggle. To hold the national question above all others is to isolate oneself from the people and result in inevitable defeat. We must involve ourselves and the masses in issues, which affect them: political agitation, propaganda etc should not be confined to the six counties.”

Costello On Abstentionism 

  • There is no parliamentary road to socialism, but elected members should use such chambers as a platform for the pursuit of our policies and for achieving publicity for them, but members elected to parliament etc would have to be active in politics outside parliament, i.e. extra parliamentary and agitationary politics on the streets.
  • We see both parliamentary institutions in Ireland as institutions that have to be abolished if we are to make progress towards establishing a socialist republic.
  • When we say we are not an abstention party, we mean we are not a party, in principle, committed to abstention. But there are circumstances and conditions under which it might be desirable at any particular point in time to abstain from parliament, and if we felt it was tactically desirable then we would do so.

Ultimate Goals

  • 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.

 

  • The Broad Front: This advocates the maximum degree of Anti-imperialist unity. We recognise the absolute necessity of securing a constitutional solution to the present crisis, which will allow the Irish working class the freedom to pursue their interests as a class in the context of the development of normal class polities.  In our view, the first step in securing a constitutional solution, which meets this requirement, must be for Britain to concede the right of the Irish people to exercise total sovereignty over their own affairs. This objective can only be achieved through the creation of a united struggle on the part of all Anti-imperialist Organisations. We would therefore support the formation of an Irish anti-imperialist front composed of delegates from affiliated organisations who support the agreed political programme of the front.  The primary objective of the front would be to mobilise the maximum degree of support for its declared objectives throughout Ireland. The front should clearly be seen as the LEADERSHIP OF A MASS MOVEMENT against all forms of imperialist control and interference in Ireland.

The Broad front should have sufficient support and assistance from its affiliated organisations to enable it to open a head office with a full time staff. We propose the following political demands as the basis on which an Irish anti-imperialist front should organise:

  1. That Britain must renounce all claims to sovereignty over any part of Ireland or its coastal waters.
  2. That Britain must immediately disband and disarm the UDR, RUC and RUC Reserve and withdraw all troops from Ireland.
  3. That the British and 26 County Governments must immediately release all political prisoners and grant a general amnesty for all offences arising from the current conflict.
  4. That Britain must agree to compensate all that have suffered as a result of imperialist violence and exploitation in Ireland.
  5. Recognising that no country can be free and independent while it permits imperialist domination of its economic life, the anti-imperialist front, will oppose all forms of imperialist control over wealth and resources.
  6. The front rejects a federal solution and the continued existence of two separates in the 6 and 26 counties as a denial of the right of the Irish people to sovereignty and recognises that the only alternative as being the creation of a 32 democratic republic with a secular constitution.
  7. That the front demands the convening of an all Ireland constitutional conference representative of all shades of political opinion in Ireland for the purpose of discussing a democratic and secular constitution would become effective immediately following a total British military and political withdrawal from Ireland.

These were the primary differences between the IRSP, Officials, and the Provisional’s when Seamus Costello launched the party in December 1974.
Ta Power finished Part one on the death and subsequent loss to the IRSM of Seamus Costello. Here he quotes people who knew Costello and the various political roles Costello had been involved in at the time of his death. This demonstrates the severe blow his death was to the movement. This came basically as the movement was gathering pace.

  • “Seamus was the greatest follower of my father’s teachings in this generation and I hope that his example shall be followed and that his vision for Ireland will be realised in this generation” — Nora Connolly O’Brien.
  • “Seamus was the most sincere man I ever had the pleasure to know” — Father Piaras O Duill.
  • “Without a doubt he was the greatest threat to the capitalist establishment since James Connolly” — Sean Doyle.
  • “Seamus spoke for the IRSP and give a scintillating display of good humour, history, politics and hard facts. No one who listened to his three hours in the afternoon, and by unanimous demand, two hours repeat in the evening, now doubts that they will either have to shoot him or jail him or get out of his way, but they certainly won’t stop him! Costello, the revolutionary, Marxist socialist whose ambition is a secular, pluralist united socialist republic won’t go away until he gets it” — Dr Noel Browne.

From 1964 – 1974, Seamus Costello  held the positions of Adjutant General, Chief of staff and director of operations in the Official IRA and the positions of vice president of Official Sinn Fein.
From 1974 to his death on the 5th of October 1977 he held the position of Chief of staff and director of operations in INLA.
At the time of his assassination he was a member of the following bodies: Wicklow County Council, Co Wicklow Committee of Agriculture, General Council of Committees of Agriculture, Eastern Regional Development Committee, Bray Urban District Council, Bray branch of ITGWU, Bray and District Trade Union Council, of which he was president between 1976-1977, the Historical Society, and chairman of the IRSP.

Ta Power: Marxist Revolutionary

Ta Power was a committed Marxist. He quotes Costello on a number of occasions and points out that his phrase, “I owe my allegiance to the working class” as an example for all comrades to emulate. He also points out that “we must also present our vision of what revolutionary socialist state means. When we say our programme that we want to establish a 32 county socialist state with the working class in control of the means of production, distribution and exchange we must be able to decipher it for the working class to understand what it means.” That is paramount comrades, which basic economic ideology has to be understood by all comrades.Ta Power embraces the notion of a broad front, but it must be lead by the working class.

Analysis of Part Two of The Ta Power Document

In part two, Ta Power discusses, using both historical analysis of the years 1974-1981, in various parts and it’s relevance of the movement. He uses a number of contradictions,  most prominent of which is the problems associated with a party/army movement and the predominance of group ‘B’ over group ‘A’. This is a prolonged debate, in which he is fearlessly open and somewhat scathing of the culture then prevalent within the movement. It is deeply argued that his analysis is spot on here
He states that group ‘A’ by its very nature is “democratic, open structures, working openly, have its own priorities, tasks etc” where as group ‘B’ suffers from, “undemocratic, closed structures, working secretly, have its own priorities, tasks, etc.”  Ta Power is particularly scathing when the dominance of group ‘B’ is over group ‘A.’  He goes into detail of the various outcomes that can arise. Ta is scathing of the macho image of group ‘B’ in particularly in the periods of 1979-1981 and again from 1982-87.

He also states that every time there was an attempt to shift power from ‘B’ to ‘A’, this has led to failure. Perhaps he is being prophetic here, indeed it was a result of a split and power struggle within the movement that led him to being assassinated fighting the very problems he tried to overcome. Indeed again in 1996 another acrimonious split led to the death of Gino Gallagher who was also attempting to implement Ta Power’s recommendations.
Ta Power argues that a common bond should exist. He also rightly argues that that 1981 Hunger Strike was about brave Volunteers dying so that political recognition of our prisoners was restored and that it would thwart any attempt to criminalise our struggle.
“Our movement played a full and committed role in the history of this period – on the streets, the IRSP mobilised in support of the prisoners, and in the prisons our members stood steadfast and firm. Three of our movement’s finest volunteers, Pasty O Hara, Kevin Lynch and Mickey Devine lost their lives on hunger strike.”
Ta then questions why after the Hunger Strike, why the movement didn’t reach its full potential. To this he noted two short words: INTERNAL TURMOIL
He looks at the B/A relationship and decided that the wrong people took control, were in power and there was a predominance of B over A. Ta argued for proper structure and placed a ten point strategy which he argues is extremely important for the movement to implement. The ten point structure is 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
Ta Power argues that there has to be coherence and discipline for the 10 point structure to work, any failures will result in each aspect being affected. Furthermore Ta continues to argue that our politics should be in control, the main concern, not the army. Ta argues that Costello wanted to grow the Party, but others deemed resources be ploughed into the army. Ta cites that as the first contradiction. This led to “loss of coherency and the formation of “power blocks” and factions, loss of politics, the political ideals which make us, as a movement are not being addressed.
Power states in his second contradictions that the party is entrusted with “building a revolutionary class conscious party with a revolutionary programme for development. However, in order for this to be achieved, finances, resources time and above all revolutionary mature leadership (The AC) which understood the importance of such, a party was required.
Ta Power goes on and states that the army stifled political development of the Party and firmly believes that without the proper political vehicle no revolution can be won.

The Third contradiction is that between 1974-1977, there was no collective leadership, Power Blocks, Macho man image, all of which points to early predominance of B over A, particularly within the Belfast leadership. Politically astute leadership is required, class consciousness and education within the movement is paramount. If division and power blocks continue that can (and did) lead to disaster, it was a prophetic for Ta Power.
It is argued that Ta Power wanted an armed struggle with soldiers who were politically aware and conscious and politicians who understood the need for armed conflict against the imperialists and capitalists. “Every Solider a politician, every politician a soldier.”
In conclusion, at every stage of the history of the IRSM, Ta argued that COLLECTIVE LEADERSHIP is extremely important. In all areas of the movement it has to be a democratic collective leadership has to initiate work and consciousness amongst the membership. To conclude, Ta Advocated
(1) Politics in command: A over B
(2) Principle of Collective Leadership (no one man shows)
(3) Stability (ending of factions)
This will then lead to a structure that will see the ten point theory being implemented.
How does that relate to recent developments? Well firstly, recently the movement has decided to involve itself in purely political action. The dominance is now in the court of A so to speak. The movement is still some way away from achieving the ten point structure but the right direction is being pursued.


Would Ta have welcomed the 2009 decision for group ‘B’ to leave centre stage, given the very different political climate of contemporary times?  This is hard to analyse or answer, as Ta Power is sadly not around to offer his advice and consultation.  Ta Power was no pacifist but as a revolutionary he would no doubt have been  adaptable to contemporary conditions for modes of struggle.  It could be argued that the revolutionary political road that the IRSM is currently travelling is in keeping with Ta Power’s credo of ‘politics in command’ with ‘every soldier a politician and every politician a soldier’ that he stridently advocated is closer than ever to being realised. Ta Power would certainly have advocated and supported the revolutionary education of party members and the continued fight on behalf of the working class.. He was a proud and brave INLA Volunteer, a great theoretician and political thinker. It would be a fitting tribute to him if we implement his ideals as best as we can.

To quote Ta Power, at the conclusion of his essay written 27 years ago:

“If we have achieved even part of that success, then the effort has been worthwhile.”

By: Daithi
IRSP supporter
Posted in Opinion Piece, Ta Power

The Ta Power Document Examined – Educational Piece

This article provides a brief analysis of mainly Part One of Ta Power’s dissertation on the Irish Republican Socialist Movement, which is now widely known as the Ta Power Document. It is hoped that this article will be of help when IRSP members and other Republican Socialist discuss the Ta Power Document, an essay that’s foresightedness and fearless analysis is undoubtedly ahead of it’s time.

What Is The Ta Power Document?

We hear a lot about the Ta Power Document but what exactly does it contain?  Certainly, one could probably read Ta Power critique of the IRSM in an afternoon, but arguably the best way to appreciate fully what is contained in his critique, is to take the time to read it as one would approach a serious study.  This is because there is so much content of both retrospective and contemporary value compounded into the Document’s pages, that a quick reading will never do justice to Ta Power’s project, which was so comprehensively written, often under the most difficult of conditions, notably partly within a cramped prison cell.

It is also helpful to acquaint oneself with the life of Thomas ‘Ta’ Power as the INLA guerrilla and the Revolutionary Socialist theorist.  Ta Power’s life was very closely associated with the earlier years of the nascent Irish Republican Socialist Movement.  Contained within the pages of the Ta Power Document is the genuine, early history of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement, written by an INLA Guerrilla who knew only too well, that as a committed revolutionary, he was simply, as he fearlessly stated, a “dead man on leave!”

James Connolly, Ireland’s first Marxist Revolutionary, wrote 89 years before Ta Power’s assassination that: “Apostles of Freedom are ever idolised when dead, but crucified when alive.” They were prophetic words both for Connolly, Ta Power and all those who have sought to bring revolutionary change to Ireland, defy Imperialism and fight for a Socialist Republic.


Ta Power, not surprisingly, on the far left. To the right is his brother, Jim Power, who also gave his life in the struggle for an Irish Workers’ Republic

Who Was Ta Power?

Thomas ‘Ta’ Power was an INLA guerrilla fighter and an Irish Republican Socialist Party activist from the Market area of Belfast, whose Revolutionary actions were backed up with an insightful analysis of the age old struggle for National Liberation and Socialism in Ireland. The Republic that Ta Power believed was worth fighting for was one that guaranteed economic liberty for the Irish working-class, not just an exchange of one ruling class for the homegrown Gombeen variety, which successive one-dimensional Nationalists have repeatedly eventually settled for throughout Irish history. Ta Power believed in the Workers Republic of Marxist revolutionary James Connolly, who rejected traditional Nationalism espoused by th likes of Sinn Fein, just as vehemently as he opposed British Imperialism.

Ta Power’s legacy to contemporary Republican Socialism was his insightful analysis of how the Irish Republican Socialist Movement needs to be structured, to become the effective vanguard for an Irish Socialist Republic. The Ta Power Essay could arguably be described as being as important to Irish Republican Socialism, as VI Lenin’s ‘What is to be Done’ was to the Bolsheviks at the beginning of the 20th century.  In fact the similarities between the IRSM and the ‘legal Marxists’ of the Second International are striking

Contemporary comrades of Ta Power will have their own personal and revolutionary memories of one of Irelands most outstanding Republican Socialists, who by all accounts was very much cut from the same cloth as the late Seamus Costello.  It is glaringly apparent that British imperialism and their lackeys in the Gombeen Free State feared Ta Power’s Republican Socialist ideology and that they viewed him personally as a dangerous revolutionary foe. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) held him in de facto internment without trial, mainly being held in the grim Crumlin Road prison for nearly 5 years, on the word of 5 separate successive bribed supergrass perjurers.  When Ta Power was assassinated in January, 1987, along with his comrade, John O’Reilly, at the Rosnaree Hotel, by members of the counter-revolutionary IPLO, we can be sure that Imperialism uttered a sigh of relief.

Before his tragic assassination at the young age of 33, Ta Power spent much of his his lengthy time in prison conducting a root and branch analysis of the Revolutionary forces involved in the struggle for National Liberation and Socialism in Ireland and the IRSM in particular. Ta Power recognises the leading role of Republican Socialism’s most outstanding advocate, Seamus Costello and the nearly ‘incalculable loss’ the movement faced by his assassination at the hands of an Official IRA gangster.  Power pulls no punches in his critique of the IRSM’s varied fortunes but his analysis points out that at the heart of any excesses and contradictions in the movement were structural defects, which made those mistakes not only possible but inevitable..

Ta Power’s historical analysis of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement

Power begins by plotting the course of the Republican Movement pre-1969 split and again pre-1974:

“the Republican Movement at that time, as indeed throughout its history was a monolithic movement, ideologically united and disciplined in its strategy and tactics.” (1)

Ta Power rightfully analyses that even at that time, within the monolithic pre-1969 Republican Movement, a distinct reformist tendency was gaining in strength, in tandem with the more traditionalist, one dimensional Republican strand and an overtly Socialist strand. (This is characteristic of all broad national liberation movements which history has taught us will invariably split along Left-Right and/or Reformist-Revolutionary lines.)  A smaller, more radical trend, centred round Seamus Costello, sought to marry the need for both National Liberation and Socialism, correctly treating them as intrinsically linked. The Official IRA leadership was at variance with the more militant grassroots and Ta Power cites the friction between the militant Belfast OIRA leader, Joe McCann and the reformist Official IRA leadership. Costello was of the same militant ilk as McCann and similarly was victimised by the Official’s leadership, culminating in his eventual expulsion at the 1974 Official Sinn fein Ard Fheis. Ta Power correctly states that:

“the dismissal of Costello formalised what was already a fact…’the parting of the ways’ of a revolutionary & reformist strategy on the National question!” (2)

In the gaols and all over Ireland, the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) grew out of the militant grassroots, disaffected membership of the Official Republican Movement. In Belfast the Officials’ leadership ordered immediate armed attacks on the fledgling IRSP, which initially left 3 dead and many more wounded. When counter-revolutionary attacks on the fledgling IRSP, ordered by the Official IRA leadership were concerned, Ta Power points out ironically that:

“the arms the officials had starved and denied their own membership to confront Imperialism had been delivered in plenty!” (3)

Power was just as scathing of the Provisionals, as he was of the Officials’ leadership in his critique. While he viewed the reformism of the Stickies, as ignoring the elephant in the living-room of partition, he viewed the Provisionals as being hopelessly elitist. Ta Power correctly saw the Irish Republican Socialist Movement as the only vehicle to:

“stand for the unity of the anti-imperialist struggle & the class struggle.” (4)

The IRSP and the Broad Front?

Ta Power saw that a movement which placed equal emphasis on the struggle for both Socialism and National Liberation, was ultimately capable of leading an anti-Imperialist Broad Front, while the IRSP retained the clear understanding that there could be no reformist ‘parliamentary road to socialism’  However, their political agitation was not to be restricted by any elitist, traditional republican principle of ‘abstentionism’ (although in some circumstances that would be acceptable as a tactic.) The anti-Imperialist Broad Front would adhere to core progressive Republican Socialist principles.

Ta Power rounds off his recounting of the complicated birth of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement, by recalling that by mid-1975, the worst of the Official IRA attacks had ended and by later in the year the IRSP had a politically healthy membership of 800 activists in Ireland. The party had a quarterly internal theoretical bulletin, plus the monthly newspaper ‘The Starry Plough’.  Basically by this stage, Ta Power states that, the IRSM had survived the counter-revolutionary Official IRA attempts to strangle it at birth and Republican Socialism was on the road to party political stability, progress and growth.

The IRSM and concerted state repression

Ta Power continues with his historical analysis of the IRSM by stating that after a brief period on the road to movement’s political stability, following the early attacks on the fledgling movement, the party had a healthy active membership.  The southern Free State government then set out to attempt to systematically smash the Republican Socialist Movement.  By April 1976, after the Sallins Train Robbery, the Gardai’s Heavy Gang conducted systematic repression and brutality on IRSP members, culminating in the framing of 6 party members, including Nicky Kelly, for a mail train robbery that reportedly was not carried out by by the IRSM. Amnesty International were partly responsible for exposing the brutality of the Garda Heavy Gangs habitual tactics of torture and perverting the course of justice, to frame those they perceived to be Enemies of the Leinster House State.

In the north of Ireland, the IRSM were involved in all facets of the anti-Imperialist struggle which included armed guerrilla actions against the British occupational forces.  The IRSM also took a leading, guiding role in the nascent agitation against the criminalisation of Republican POW’s in Long Kesh and Armagh, both inside and outside the gaols, which included the earlier INLA successful mass escape from Cage 5 in Long Kesh concentration camp on the 5th May, 1976.

The impact of Costello’s assassination

Ta Power stressed the massive blow to the Republican Socialist Movement caused by the assassination of of perhaps Ireland’s most dynamic Republican leader, Seamus Costello in 1977:

“the sheer stature of the revolutionary Seamus Costello is too great for what can be expressed in feeble words, yet words are the only (way) to express and convey this stature albeit in a feeble way” (5)

He goes on to list many of the testimonials to Seamus Costello’s outstanding Revolutionary character from the likes of Nora Connolly O’Brien (James Connolly’s daughter), Fr Piaras O’Duill, Sean Doyle and Dr Noel Browne. He recounts the lengthy list of elected and appointed positions held by the indefatiqable Seamus Costello from 1964 until his tragic murder in October 1977.

The Struggle in the H-Blocks

Ta Power admits that the IRSM were the main beneficiaries of disillusionment within the Official IRA in Long Kesh, in the early 1970′s, which produced a ready made reservoir of recruits, but at the time it was in a volatile state. At first the gaol authorities did not grant recognition to the IRSP prisoners, but after the correct pressure was applied, they did give in.

Shortly after this, the infant IRSP had the morale boost of 5 prisoners escaping from Newry courthouse and the mass escape of 9 INLA prisoners from Long Kesh via a tunnel in May 1976.  However, by this stage political status was being phased out by the British as part of their ‘Ulsterisation’ aka “Normalisation” counter-revolutionary strategy. The H-Blocks of Long Kesh concentration camp then became the main focus of the anti-Imperialist struggle for the Republican Socialist Movement and indeed the entire Irish Republican community:

“suddenly, captured republicans were thrown back to an active role & again to the forefront of the struggle. Their courage, resolve & mettle would be tested to the full. The tremendous responsibility, which was imposed on them, was a heavy burden to carry but carry it they did!” (6)

As well as invigorating the Republican Socialist Movement, the campaign for political status was a double edged sword:

“with the end of [political] status came the end of segregation. The effects of this on our movement was more profound than are sometimes realised. Because of our numerical weakness we were always a minority within the broad republican family & this created further problems for us. The IRA always set the tempo & pace but we always retained our separate organisational structures, independence & identity .” (7)

What is to be done?

From page 14 of the document, Ta Power begins his own ‘What is to be done’ and quotes Seamus Costello:

“..we must make no secret of the fact that we are a Revolutionary party, prepared to give leadership on the streets as well as in the elected chambers & that we are out for a revolutionary state.” (8)

Ta Power’s sentiments in this part of his critique echo those of Seamus Costello, in that he advises a multi-faceted Revolutionary Socialist approach. For instance, agitation both on the streets and in elected bodies, bluntly emphasising that there can be:

“no easy way to the Socialist Republic, no shortcuts!”(9)

Power bluntly states that unlike the ‘Walkerite Socialists’ of James Connolly’s time in Belfast or those described by Seamus Costello as ‘Ring-road Socialists’ due to their deliberate sidestepping or ignoring of the national question, it would be folly for the RSM to ever attempt to fool the Irish working class regarding their revolutionary agenda, as ‘they know only too well ‘who the phonies’ are.  Nor should the IRSM fall into the plague of political sectarianism, bureaucracy or factionalism that habitually bedevils the Left,

“we must be vigilant that we dont sink into the morass of sectarianism, mixing, pettiness etc. We must not get involved in unprincipled slagging matches etc or into positions that are sectarian, anti-revolutionary, morally damaging that give succour to the enemy & that confuse & divide the working class” (10)

Power states that an important facet of Irish Republican Socialism is that it should not be vague but be able to describe it’s vision for a Democratic Irish Socialist Republic, not just limit their vision to the transitional stages and the process to achieve it.  He again echoes James Connolly, in his belief that it is only by the actions of the Irish working class that the age old project of Ireland’s liberation from British imperialism can be achieved. Bourgeois parties will always compromise with Imperialism, which VI Lenin accurately described as the highest (in reality the ‘worst’) stage of Capitalism.

Ta Power writes that the might of the pro-Imperialist forces can only being defeatable by a Broad Front of progressive anti-Imperialist forces. Power advocated the convening of a conference of anti-Imperialist parties. This is very relevant in today’s context where Irish republicanism is very much splintered, despite various half-hearted calls for Republican Unity. He criticizes Stalinist Stage-ism, as adhered to by the likes of the Officials, as a deflection from the National Liberation struggle:

“it is only by strengthening ourselves ideologically, inculcating in ourselves the values & ideals of the struggle and building up the ranks of the revolutionary party that we will make it! Finally, we must constantly review, criticize & self criticize all aspects of our actions, policies, tactics etc. Keep appraising the whole situation & keep striving to raise the class consciousness, spirit & capacity to fight & win of the working class.” (11)

The Primacy of Politics

As Ta Power indicates, the Irish Republican Socialist Movement followed what is known as the ‘party/army model’ and Ta Power critiques the ‘contradictions’ contained in that relationship when the proverbially cart is placed before the horse.  Ta Power utilises Marxian dialectics to explain the relationship between the political activities of the IRSM, which he refers to as:

‘A’ the party (IRSP) and: ‘B’ the military wing, (INLA.)

He states that ‘group A’, the party, should guide ‘group B’, the army, but due to structural defects that Ta Power identifies in his essay, group B ended up being the dominant element and therefore a very retarded form of Marxian Praxis existed. He states that for many within group B, overtly political work was viewed as being unimportant, unfashionable and a distraction from armed struggle:

“therefore there arises a definite trend of spurning “A”[political] type work as being beneath their standing, style etc; there arises contempt for those involved in “A” type work “ (12)

He questions why political work came to be looked down upon as a lesser form of revolutionary struggle, despite there being so many extremely intelligent individuals involved. This one dimensional militaristic political culture within the IRSM at that time led to factionalism, power-building and of course the well documented breaking away of a counter-revolutionary group:

“Are we amateurs & not professionals? We know the lessons of history, we know the mistakes & we either act accordingly or collapse. Salvation lies in clarity & the courage to implement change!” (13)

Ta Power states that doing things in half-measures will only prove to be counter-productive, as ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions!’

He then uses Lenin’s polemic against the myopic, cordite soaked Socialist Revolutionaries (SR’s) in Russia who were in effect elitist armed liberals, to critique the purely militarist tendencies within the then IRSM. (It is worth noting that Lenin and therefore Ta Power, are using the term ‘terrorism’ in the strictly sociological sense here, not the bourgeois subjective sense.)  In effect, Ta Power is stressing that direct action that is not in the interest of the Irish proletariat or alienates them is counter-productive,

“their ‘terrorism’ is not connected in any ways with work among the masses……it distracts our very scanty organisational resources from their difficult & by no means complete task of organising a revolutionary party “(14)

Conclusions For Contemporary Republican Socialist?

Although this article deals primarily with Part One of the Ta Power Document, the central theme of his dissertation is to assert the principles of ‘Politics in Command’ as the only salvation for the Irish Republican Socialist Movement.  Power is fearless in his critique of one dimensional militarism within the IRSM and how that culture of disdain for overtly ‘political work’ led to such tragedies as the emergence of the IPLO counter-revolutionaries, power-base building by individuals and a general ‘running down’ of the role of the party.

Unlike the Irish Republican Socialist Movement’s various detractors who spend their time sniping from the sidelines, Ta Power’s critique came from within and therefore his essay should be studied, discussed and itself critiqued and indeed added, to if need be, in light of today’s political climate which has changed drastically since 1987.

However, Ta Power’s critique of the IRSM still retains it’s resonance even after over a quarter of a century and the Irish Republican Socialist Movement, now in it’s 40th year of existence, remains the only truly Connollyite organisation that places equal emphasis on the class struggle and the national liberation struggle. Tactically, there may have been temporary changes yet the overall strategy has never travelled the reformist route and remains the same with no-one under any illusions that the disestablishment of the ‘robber barons’ of both corporate exploitation, Gombeen capitalism and imperialism will always be robustly opposed, with the appropriate tactics of the political climate. The Ta Power Document’s final prophetic lines are as apt and retain the same resonance today as they did in the late 1980s:

It will take a resolute leadership and the use of a firm but fair hand to drag this movement back onto the rails. Those who stand in the way of development and progress must be cast aside, no one or group will dictate solely the pace and path this movement will take to overcome its difficulties.

Those who seek to impose shackles must be cast aside without hesitation. We either go forward or backward.

Finally let us return to what we said in the first page of part one. There we said our objective in this draft, was an attempt to UNDERSTAND THE PAST so that we may ANALYSE THE PRESENT in order to INFLUENCE THE FUTURE. This is a bold claim to make, and an even bolder one to succeed with!” (15)

References 1-15 from The Ta Power Document

 

Posted in Educational, Fallen Volunteers, Opinion Piece, Ta Power | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Boycott Topaz Fuel Stations!

Stephen Cummins, a spokesperson for IRSP Átha Cliath stated on the 19th of October that:

“The Irish republican socialist party began its Boycott Topaz campaign which billionaire and capitalist Denis O’Brian added to his capitalist portfolio. The Topaz Group was purchased by Mr O’Brien using his Kendrick Investments Ltd, an Isle of Man company.  Denis O’Brien company GMC/Sierra are the main contractors for the installation of water meters in Ireland, many people simply don’t understand that by pumping their hard earned wages through Topaz garages for their daily fuel they are funding the very same companies that they are protesting against daily.

Join us every Saturday at 12 at the Topaz garages. Will will inform every body on our social media the location of the garages we intend to protest at each week. All groups and political activists welcome as well as political material.”

See IRSP Átha Cliath Facebook Page  for further announcements!

 

Denis O’Brien – Robber Baron

Denis O’Brien is listed in the Forbes Magazine ‘Rich list’ as number 283 of the world’s richest Billionaires.  As of today,3.55pm, 25/10/2014, his Real Time Net Worth is  $5.1 Billion!  O’Brien who describes himself as ‘the son of an activist’ says he ‘tries to operate on an 80%-business, 20%-philanthropy ethic’ .“We’re not robber barons,” he says. “We never want to be seen as someone that rips off countries.”  Obviously the citizens of Ireland and elsewhere would strongly disagree with his glowing self-description which, to put it mildly is BULLSHIT!  

Robber Baron Denis O’Brien – Arch Capitalist Exploiter and the world’s 283′rd richest person worth $5.1 Billion!

 

 

To quote the very apt words of the the late, great Seamus Costello, co-founder of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement:

“in the long term, the lessons of history show that 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”.

 

Posted in Campaigns, Dublin | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Boiling Water – the shallow exploitation of the People’s Resources PPSÉ

Boiling Water – the shallow exploitation of the People’s Resources PPSÉ

 

We are told that we are experiencing times of economic hardship, a recession that is affecting all of us. As many are fully aware, this is untrue in reality, and similar to any historical period of ‘economic gloom’ it is always the ordinary man and woman who feel the wrath and ruthlessness of the capitalists’ shortcomings.

It is quite apparent that the introduction of water charges by the Fine Gael/Labour collation has accelerated the anger and bitter disappointment of the Irish Nation. This recently manifested itself with over 100,000 people, of all backgrounds, standing in solidarity against this latest act of tyranny by Leinster House.

The PPSÉ firmly believes that water cannot be converted to a financial commodity and any attempt to exploit the distribution of water for profitable purposes represents a grave and fundamental affront to the human rights and dignity of the Irish People.

This premeditated and shallow agenda is ultimately designed to implement privatisation and the same old right-wing ethos of preservation of the establishment. Irish water is the inherit natural resource of the Irish People and falls purely under the ownership of the Workers. Water can never be surrendered to private capital that denies the people from their basic rights. The corruption with this water meters fiasco is nothing short of State violation of powers, again highlighting their corporation first mentality and their programme for privatisation of State Sovereignty.

We must be mindful that irrespective of any rebuttals the corrupt status quo and their cronies make, via their partial media outlets, in an attempt to justify their continued exploitation of our natural resources that the truth is simple. Our water is being charged purely for the purpose of facilitating the policy of the Troika. The facts don’t lie – they speak volumes and they indisputably conclude that the people of Ireland have been miserably failed and neglected for generations. These systematic failures are not improving but exasperating our everyday living. More and more of us have absolutely no quality of life.

We welcome the united progressive position opposing the water tax by the Communication Workers’ Union, the CPSU, Mandate, OPATSI and Unite the Union which states

 “Our message is very simple:  Irish people have already paid for water through general taxation, and are not prepared to pay for it a second time through water user charges.

“It is clear that neither the government’s water charges policy, nor Irish Water, can be reformed.”

“The time has come for the government to recognise the overwhelming opposition of the citizens by abolishing water charges, stop wasting further taxpayers’ money on water meter installation, dissolve Irish Water and return its functions to the local authorities, and go back to the drawing board to construct a water management policy which is fit for purpose and respects our Right2Water”

The time has now come for our Trade Union movement to make honest and meaningful endeavours to reorganise, revaluate, and re-examine their social conscious and relationship with the status quo.

It should not be overlooked that many of the Unions wrongfully agreed to the privatisation of our water distribution network as part of the atrocious ‘agreements’ reached at Haddington Road/Croke Park lll.

The Trade Union movement is consisted of over 800,000 members on our Island and offers a great potential framework to mobilise. We all must stand in solidarity and ensure we are not complicit in the implementation of water meters installation and/or enforcement. The ICTU also has a responsibility to reconnect with the communities workers live in and deliver not just in the workplace but also in the community.

The exploitation of our water distribution falls on the backdrop of gross unemployment, vast immigration, unsustainable wages, unrealistic cuts to public services and irrational manipulation of pensions and social security funds. Despite this depression being inflicted on the Workers of Ireland, the right-wing elitists, who created this situation, are bailed out at every opportunity with Government initiatives. Therefore it is perfectly legitimate to air our rage. We support all protests highlighting the flaws of the system.

We must openly look at the ‘cause of infection’ within our society not solely focus on the ‘symptoms’. The neo-imperial and corporate model of government has failed. We must demand a fairer and more equal future for all, and be prepared to work towards such an Ireland. This is not to be feared but embraced. The people of Ireland are demoralised with the doctrines of the establishment and are searching for an alternative to the corrupt and toxic political parties that have molested our communities and embroiled us in this State of inequality and discrimination.

We encourage the Workers of Ireland to organise, mobilise and rise together. The PPSÉ is eager and willing to work with others, where possible, in order to forward the ideals of a 32 County Socialist Republic.

It is time for all Workers to morally examine their stance within the society. We must hold humanity and respect for our fellow Workers in a much higher regard than that of profit, which unfortunately has been socially ingrained in many via the indoctrination of capitalism. While it is important that we unite on every occasion possible, we must be realistic that the selective and over-zealous taxation of the proletariat and water charges are only some of the many issues facing the Workers today. We must reject austerity in its entirety; the concealed Troika-Tenet and the Establishment’s philosophy of exploitation. We must build a real Republic; we must build the alternative together.

Posted in Uncategorized

IRSP At Congress Anti-Austerity March in Belfast

Belfast-20141018-00070

 

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”

Belfast-20141018-00087

 

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!

Belfast-20141013-00038

 

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.

Belfast-20141013-00034

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

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

wullie g

 

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.”

 

Posted in Uncategorized

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

saft

 

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.

Posted in Uncategorized