Wednesday, April 11, 2007


In the wake of Sinn Fein successs in the North , republicans are increasingly having to confront the problem of building a realistic strategy for the very different political situation that exists in the 26 Counties . In this controversial analysis , Sinn Fein ard comhairle ('National Executive') member Paddy Bolger , argues that the Sinn Fein concept of an 'Economic Resistance Movement' , put forward in 1971 and expanded eight years later , is seriously over-optimistic , and that the national question remains the central revolutionary issue on which Free State workers can be mobilised in a painstaking and gradualist approach .
From 'IRIS' magazine , November 1983 .

In the public service sector , with almost 100 per cent trade union membership , the unions have shied away from large-scale industrial action despite Garret FitzGerald's threat of cuts of £500 million in the 1984 budget which will result in thousands of white-collar redundancies . Even the notably militant National Busworkers Union has developed a caution in taking industrial action which contrasts with its previous practice . The Civil and Public Services Staff Association was forced to suspend its strike action when other public service unions - including the progressively-led Local Government and Public Services Union - decided the climate was not right for major industrial action .

Even where relatively advanced leadership has been provided by the Dublin Congress of Trade Unions, the results have been transitory or disappointing ; for instance , the PAYE protest marches and the attempted unemployment campaign of 1981-1982 .

The hard fact is that the prevailing mood in the organised working class in the South is one of fear of unemployment rather than real anger at the underlying political system . Progressive political groups can point to a poverty of ideology as the root of this trade union quiescence , but it will only be when socialist ideology has been developed within the trade unions under a broad progressive leadership - not foisted patronisingly from outside - that there will be hope for improvement . Sloganising will achieve nothing , hard work by republicans within trade unions might do something.......

Formerly Sinn Fein's national organiser , 28-year-old Belfast republican Jim Gibney has been imprisoned on remand since last January , one of many who have been held solely on the word of an RUC informer . Most of this period on remand has been spent in Belfast's Crumlin Road Jail.
In this article , smuggled out of Crumlin Road , Gibney outlines the daily routine in the jail , in which segregation between republican and loyalist prisoners -one of the hunger-strikers' five demands- plays a central , if 'officially' unrecognised , role .
From 'IRIS' magazine ,November 1982 .
By Jim Gibney .

The latest protests , beginning on the weekend of October 16th/17th 1982 , involving loyalist prisoners in the H-Blocks smashing up 150 cells , with rioting reported at Magilligan Prison also , are an indication of a trend that may continue unless the British government officially concedes segregation .

The one thing they can rest assured of is that until they do there will be no peace inside their jails.

(Next - 'Troublesome Business' : from 1982)

These notes attempt to record the left-wing organisations which have existed in Ireland since 1960 . No attempt has been made to record purely local organisations outside Dublin and Belfast , or microscopic groups which never reached double figures . The larger organisations have been presented in more detail .
From 'GRALTON' magazine, 1983.
By John Goodwillie.
(NOTE : Links in the following article are as accurate as possible - not all the groups mentioned left a discernible 'footprint' .)

NEW EARTH: Formed in 1973 . An anarchist group composed mainly of ex-members of Official Sinn Fein. The 'New Earth' group ceased to function in 1975 .

NORTHERN IRELAND LABOUR PARTY: (sic) This organisation changed its name from the 'Labour Party of Northern Ireland' (sic) in 1927 . Since 1949 this group has been in favour of the 'union' with England . Despite the affiliation of many trade unions , it never achieved a breakthrough , and its showing at elections declined from 4 seats in 1958 and 1962 to 1 seat in 1973 and 1975 . Since then its decline has preceeded apace and its existence is virtually nominal .

PEOPLE'S DEMOCRACY: Formed in 1968 around the core of the Young Socialist Alliance, this group was a force to be reckoned with briefly as the left wing of the Civil Rights Movement, but soon declined in size and adopted a more definite membership and Marxist policy . Following the merger with the Movement for a Socialist Republic in 1978 it has affiliated to the United Secretariat of the Fourth International.