Monday, April 23, 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 .

How can we make progress , then , given that we rule out (as in commonsense we must) revolutionary armed struggle in the Free State , and given that economic and social circumstances are not hopeful ?

I believe that the central economic question in Irish history is the national question : sometimes in the South the national question can be lost sight of by republicans who see the ending of partition as a future goal to be accomplished by building a mass republican organisation on social issues . In fact , apart from its centrality to Irish political life , the 'national question' is the only question in the Ireland of today with a revolutionary political potential .

And so , while we cannot fail to be socialists in all areas of work identified in the economic resistance programme in 1979, we may err too far in a direction that is only superfically revolutionary unless the 'national question' is at all times kept to the fore.......

The book - 'Troublesome Business-The Labour Party and the Irish Question', by GEOFFREY BELL , was published by Pluto Press in 1982.
Reviewed here by Ciaran Dowd.
From 'IRIS' magazine , November 1982 .

There have always been progressive pressure groups in the British Labour Party, such as the early 1960s' 'Campaign for Democracy in Ulster' (sic) but , in Office , the British Labour Party has uncompromisingly toed the imperialist-unionist line .

To the left of the Party there have been several campaigns since 1969 committed to British withdrawal from Ireland : in the early 1970's there was the Anti-Internment League, which was superceded in 1976 by the Troops Out Movement (TOM). Geoff Bell concludes that " ...the inability of TOM to build the 'mass campaign' it hoped for was due to the hostile environment it had to work in.."

This is obviously true , but it did not prevent a powerful anti-war movement materialising in the United States at the time of Vietnam: however that may be , by 1980 these forces had shifted their attention to the Labour Committee on Ireland (LCI) which operates essentially within the British Labour Party.......

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' .)

SOCIALIST LABOUR PARTY: Formed in 1977 following the Independent (Anti-Coalition) Labour election campaigns . Attracted much uncommitted support from members of the League For A Workers' Republic, the Irish Workers' Group, part of the Movement For A Socialist Republic and the Socialist Workers' Movement. These groups departed over the period 1978-1980 . The 'SLP' has been fissiparous from the beginning , alienating its members for diverse reasons , and eventually dissolved in 1982 .

THE SOCIALIST PARTY: This group changed its name from The Socialist Party Of Ireland in 1976 , following its adoption of a 'two-nations theory': it achieved some localised working-class support before it merged into the Democratic Socialist Party in 1982 .

THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF IRELAND: Formed in 1971 as a breakaway from Official Sinn Fein on the grounds that they were still too much of an all-class alliance and that a consciously socialist organisation was necessary . After an effort to build itself as a replacement for the Communist Party Of Ireland, it changed its name to the Socialist Party in 1976 .