[Marxism] Some other opponents of the sell-out in Ireland
philip.ferguson at canterbury.ac.nz
Wed Dec 13 18:16:42 MST 2006
There is an interesting interview with Patricia Campbell in the July-August issue of the Solidarity-aligned magazine, 'Against the Current'. Patricia is a longtime Irish republican from Tyrone and the president of a new, radical Irish trade union, the Independent Workers Union, which seems to be very similar to the Unite! union in New Zealand.
She is another staunch critic of New Sinn Fein's sell out. The interview was conducted abut six months ago, during a visit of hers to the United States (unlike NSF who go to the US to meet their new friends in the White House and among the millionaire class, she was in the US building up grassroots workers' links). See the interview with her at:
Below is the opening part of the interview:
"THE 'PEACE PROCESSES' currently happening in Ireland as well as in Palestine, I don't call them 'peace' processes - I call them 'political' processes. Sometimes I just turn off the news, because I could write the script. The absence of conflict doesn't mean there is peace - it just means an absence of people being slaughtered.
"This morning, I read that (Sinn Fein president) Gerry Adams is saying it's time for Republicans to join the Northern Ireland police force, which is now called the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). We call it the 'Continuity RUC' [Royal Ulster Constabulary, the Northern Ireland police force which brutalized Catholic communities for decades - ed.].
"Even though I'm prepared for this it's still a bitter pill to swallow - it's like when someone close to you is dying from cancer and you think you're ready for the ending; but when it happens you're not really ready, the loss is still devastating.
"It feels like that for me with all compromises the Sinn Fein leadership are slowly but surely making. This is the RUC that smashed into our homes, harassed us, tortured us, waged war against us. Now republicans are being encouraged to join the 'new' RUC. If the union I'm helping to build, the IWU, protest on the streets to demand our rights this 'new' police force, including former comrades, if ordered to do so (by central British government) will be battering us off the streets.
"The Palestinians have already had to swallow that bitter pill, they have witnessed the same thing. That's painful, worse than Israel 'putting the boot in.' Sinn Fein insist that current policing is 'political policing', inferring that when they join the police board it won't be political. When is policing not political? When a police force enforces laws they do so at the behest of the state."
The Independent Workers Union is at: http://www.union.ie/
Another staunch opponent of the sell-out is Tommy McKearney, the Ulster (ie nine-county) organiser of the Independent Workers Union. McKearney was a long-time IRA member who spent many years in jail and several of his siblings who were in the IRA lost their lives during the armed struggle. Tommy was also on the first hunger strike, in 1980, for 53 days. As well as being one of the leaders of the IWU, he and a number of other left republicans (including Patricia Campbell) are behind the respected left magazine 'Fourthwrite'. Tommy's articles on the sell-out (and other topics, including the founding of the IWU) can be found at:
By the way, in contrast the most prominent union figure in Ireland associated with Sinn Fein is a ratbag called Phil Flynn, a sort of Irish version of Cyril Ramaphosa, except unlike Ramaphose, Flynn never led any mass struggles. Flynn used his union positions to convert himself into a business consultant and made a small fortune from this and sitting on the boards of various companies, all the while the SF leadership stopped criticism of him from rank and file comrades. There's a kind of division of labour here: Flynn advocated class collaboration and sell-out in the economic struggle and the New Sinn Fein leaders argue for it on the national question.
No republicans who are actually leading workers' organising and struggles on the ground are, as far as I'm aware, big advocates of the New Sinn Fein betrayal. The advocates are the place-hunters in the party apparatus.
And here's another principled republican, Dolores Price. Dolores was in an IRA unit active in Britain in the early 1970s, which got captured. She and her sister Marion Price had an appalling time in British prisons, including being force-fed while on an agonising hunger strike that lasted 200 days. Both of them are totally opposed to the betrayal.
She succinctly sums up the current leadership and direction of New Sinn Fein:
"They have moved from a position of Revolution to a grovelling wish to belong to the Establishment and to implement the laws, wishes and instructions of said Establishment."
And here's the opening part of an interview with her sister, Marion Price, from 2002:
Q: How do you see the lay of the land for Republicans?
A: I think it's very interesting. I felt and still do believe that Sinn Féin will go the whole way. I don't think they have any intentions of going back from this agreement.
As far as Republicanism goes, I wouldn't consider SF of today being republicans, I see SF as being a nationalist party. And that's by choice. For Republicanism I think we had a setback, I believe that it's fragmented. But I think that if we just stop and take stock, we can rebuild the Republican Movement and probably it will be a stronger movement for this, because the people who will be in the Republican Movement will be republicans, not nationalists or militant Catholics.
The full interview is at:
It is a quite fascinating interview because Marion outlines very clearly the difference between mere nationalism in Ireland and republicanism and how the Provos are really now just mainstream (ie bourgeois) nationalists and not republicans. Her interview is a wonderful example of the basic principles of Irish republicanism, as opposed to Catholic Defenderism (and now Surrenderism) and bourgeois Irish nationalism.
She also predicted that the IRA would disarm and welcomed this because, she noted, the only people the Adamsites were using their weapons against now were republicans who opposed their strategy - eg the murder of Real IRA member Joe O'Connor by the Provos - and nationalist youth who the Provos were policing on behalf of the Brits.
Here she is analysing the dishonesty of the Surrenderistas - and presenting a nice alternative to Donal's crap that there was no alternative but to go down this road:
Q: If the Provisional leadership had been honest and said, "We lost, but we can't do better, this is the best that we can get," would that have been acceptable to you?
A: It would have been more acceptable than what they present today, as if they had some sort of victory. My alternative to what they have done would have been that if they had come to the conclusion that the war was going nowhere, that we couldn't win - rather than lost - the right thing to do would been to have the moral courage to say "the war is over, and we didn't win." They should have had the moral courage to do that.
Once they've done that, I think that would have opened up a variety of avenues to them, they wouldn't have been trapped in the cul de sac in which they are now stuck. If they had made that courageous declaration that the war is over because we couldn't win it, I think that they could have then regrouped and decided what is the best way forward. They didn't then have to go in the British establishment and agree to run and take part in the British rule in the Six Counties. Throughout history, Republicans have never lacked the moral courage to admit when they couldn't win, and Republicans have always stood by the movement when the movement made that courageous decision, it happened in the 1940s, in the 1950s. There were no reasons why the present leadership couldn't have said to the movement, we cannot take it any further, and the movement would have certainly accepted it. There would have been no split or anything. The movement would have regrouped and said "That's not working. Where do we now go from here?" It could have gone ahead as a united movement. Instead, certain individuals decided, this is the path that it is going down, and force the movement down that path no matter what.
Q: It was dishonest?
A: I think that there was a lot of dishonesty around the whole so called negotiations. There were contacts being made between certain individuals in the Republican Movement with the British, and this was done behind the back of other individuals in the RM who were under the impression that the war was going to be fought to the bitter end. I feel that the leadership decided where it was going, and has dragged along the movement yelling and screaming, and if people were screaming too loud, they were sidelined very quickly.
And here she is on the kinds of threats and intimidation which the Provos have used to attempt to silence critics:
Q: When did you break with the Provos?
A: At the start of this so-called peace process, I had great concerns, but like many Republicans I was prepared to let them run with it for awhile, to see where it was going. That was the case for a few years. I was prepared to trust the leadership in place that this was the best road. When the Framework Principles, and the Mitchell Principles were presented, I saw the writing on the wall, and thought there's nothing for us in this, now is the time to get out of this, this is just a cul de sac.
Q: Were you threatened by the Provisionals?
A: Yes I was. A member of the Provisionals visited my home to tell me that the fact that I was expressing views that were critical of Sinn Féin, was not tolerable, and that I should better keep my mouth shut. Those visits continued for quite a number of weeks, but I made it perfectly clear to them that I wasn't going to be intimidated by them. I hadn't let the British intimidate me, and I wasn't going to be intimidated by the Provisionals.
Q: Why do you think that the Provisionals have to keep threatening people such as yourself while you have given so much to the movement?
A: Whatever you've given to the Republican movement counts for nothing, if you're not a "Yes" person within the Provisional Movement of today, everything else is disregarded. If you don't go along with the leadership, it doesn't matter what you've done in the past, you're completely disregarded. If this leadership is so convinced that it is in the right path, I don't understand why they won't debate with others, be upfront about things and let us all put all our cards on the table and air our grievances, and if we are so wrong in our analysis, let them explain to us why we are so wrong. We are prepared to argue with them, if they are so convinced that they are right, why can't we all talk about this? Why is there this conspiracy of silence, where no one is allowed to speak out? Or if someone speaks out, they are vilified?
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