New Republicans…

In what looks like the first genuinely post Agreement split, a new Republican movement seems to be in the offing called éirígí, (the Irish plural order to rise) . It contrasts with past military splits, and judging by this sedate discussion on politics.ie, it appears to be relatively amicable.

  • Garibaldy

    Some form of left/right split was inevitable given that they are pulling in youing people by claiming to be a radical socialist party. I’ve met Provos who’ve promised to resign should they join a coalition government.

    In the longer term, a split within their elected representatives when the party plateaus is more than possible.

  • Keith M

    Drat, their website looks remarkably like a new design that I’m working on for my site!

    Exactly how many tiny republican and/or socialist groups does this country need?

    The law of diminishing returns came into effect a long time ago.

  • Nathan

    Splits from the official Republican Movement of the day are never amicable.

    Look what happened in the 1930s, when left-wing IRA members went off to form the Republican Congress Movement, in support of a worker’s republic – members were attacked in Bodenstown by maniacal right-wingers, and the former Leader of South County Dublin Battalion of the IRA, token Prod George Gilmore, was slashed across the face.

    If the 1930s Republican Congress failed to unite the republican and labour movements (and it had multi-denominational support), then this outlet hasn’t a snowballs chance in hell of achieving it either.

    And like the Provisional movement today, you can bet your botton euro that éirígí is a virtual Protestant-free zone.

  • Yokel

    This kind of socialism is dead as a mainstream political force but they did put a bit of work in on their website..nice colours..Keith did you have the same colours then?

  • Stephen Copeland

    Nathan,

    … you can bet your botton euro that éirígí is a virtual Protestant-free zone.

    This is the 21st century, you know. You can bet that Eirigí is a religion-free zone!

  • Garibaldy

    Not necessarily Stephen. Some of the people on Balrog claim to be socialist and are still religious

  • Stephen Copeland

    Garibaldy,

    There is a difference between Balrog and Eirigí. Balrog is northern-based, and there the issue of religion is very closely tied up with political and cultural identity. Eirigí appears to be entirely young and Dublin, and in my experience that means entirely un-religious.

    Unless someone knows who Eirigí actually are, then we’ll never know. It seems (from the pics on their site) that they have at least 5 members or supporters, but I’ve known dozens of such micro-groups, and they come and go very quickly. Again, in my own experience, the smaller of the micro-groups tend to be comprised of the ‘outsiders’, who can be outside the mainstream either because they are ultra-religious, or because their background is different to that of the mainstream and they therefore never really got drawn into it. These latter can be ex-Protestants too (Nathan!), or simply middle-class students. Either way, it is unlikely that they are a split from the mainstream RM.

  • aquifer

    Well lets hope we have escaped from the politics of the last 5 eejits with a pistol.

  • Garibaldy

    Stephen,

    You’re probably right on the religious thing. In the discussion on the link Mick provided, PSF members admit those who comprise this group were members, but I agree it’s probably too insignificant to describe it as a split. This group has posted stuff on Indymedia if anybody is interested in more detail.

  • Keith M

    Yokel : “Keith did you have the same colours then?”, no I’m working with two shades of green. Orange is not a very web friendly coulour and come across very differently from PC to PC.

  • Nathan

    Stephen,

    If it’s a religion-free zone as you say it is, then it might as well self-dispose of its very existence right here right now.

    Effective republican socialist movements need to comprise of not just non-believers, but the religious also. In the 20C, the Republican Congress were the only ones to attract a diversity of followers in my view – some of its members being Church of Ireland (e.g. Rev. Robert M. Hilliard), Presbyterian (e.g. George and Charles Gilmore) or Catholic (e.g. Frank Ryan) at prayer, and yet republican socialist at heart. If Eirigí cannot attract a wide base like the RCM did, then its very existence will be over in a jiffy, I can assure you of that

  • Yokel

    Keith, what about Red & White are they better colours?

    If so I believe this clearly evidences the primacy of all things British over all things Irish…clearly. Open & shut case.

    Stephen Copeland, long time no see. As you well know, at a global level, this kind of radical socialism has long eschewed religion (opium of the people).

    In an Ireland context, however, it has been used for a very long time by SOME apparently socialist movements as a not very successful cover for nationalism and, way too often, its attendant sectarianism. Irish nationalism at its core, because so much has been linked in with the religious issues is more right wing than left leaning when looked at in a global context. One only has to look at the numbers of very strong Irish nationalists who went to fight for Franco’s fascists in what was a much more organised venture (backed at fairly high levels by the Irish church and state) than the one that saw some Irish people go and fight for the socialists.

    As for a split, this shows nothing beyond some dissaffection amongst a more political thought aware and active group. We’ll see real evidence of a split on the street more clearly on the very lovely forum that they have set up.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Nathan,

    If Eirigí cannot attract a wide base …

    I don’t know what your experience is, but as far as I am aware young people in Ireland are largely non-religious (or ex-, or often anti-). They may have Catholic or Protestant or other backgrounds, but on a personal level they usually have little or no interest. It is therefore incorrect to try to classify them by religion, as if that was a primary marker for them.

    Garibaldy,

    I have had a look at the discussion on politics.ie, and it is true that some people claim the Eirigí crowd were in the RM, but I am always a bit slow to accept the anonymous word of an internet poster. Neither the ‘ex-members’ nor the posters are identifiable, and so the story is entirely unverifiable. I suspect that Eirigí (like so much of politics.ie) stems from student politics, which is always a bit ‘special’.

  • joeCanuck

    Was it Winston Churchill who said “If you’re not a socialist when you are young, you don’t have a heart, and if you’re not a conservative when you are old, you don’t have a brain.”

    Don’t deny young folks their idealism (unless they have a gun in their pocket.

  • Keith M

    Joe Canuck, I think that phrase in its many form is a misappropriation.

    Personally I prefer the more common “If you are not a socialist at twenty you don’t have a heart. If you are still a socialist at thirty you don’t have a brain”.

  • joeCanuck

    Keith M

    I stand corrected.
    At 58, my brain plays tricks on me.

  • Churchill was a conservative when he was young.
    He did say “The inherent vice of capitalism is the uneven division of blessings,while the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal division of misery.”
    Have these young people never heard of the Berlin Wall?

  • Steve

    There will always be republicans who will not support the so-called peaceful SF move, they will not surrender until they got Ireland free 🙁

  • joeCanuck

    Manfarang

    I recollect (probably slightly incorrectly) another saying:
    Capitalism is the oppression of some people by other people, and Communism is the opposite.

  • joeCanuck

    Steve

    How many deaths do you think are justified until that is achieved?
    Nationhood is not about land, it’s about people.
    Convince “unionists” that their future lies in a united Ireland (which I agree with); if some people try to force them into it by use of arms, they will just be setting up the island for another 100 years of misery at least.

  • Nathan

    Stephen,

    People say they’re non-religious because its trendy to do so – in reality, however, you’ll find them to be duds, a la carte’s who reach out for religion at times of crisis, or when they need to make a political point.

    Unlike yourself, I don’t tend to classify anyone by religion, unless they insist e.g. I’ve come into contact with a few female dimwits who like to go round proclaiming themselves ‘Protestant republicans’, which is a contradiction of what true republicanism is all about (i.e. namely the substitution of Protestant, Catholic or Dissenter for the common label Irishman/woman). Each to their own.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Nathan,

    People say they’re non-religious because its trendy to do so – in reality, however, you’ll find them to be duds, a la carte’s who reach out for religion at times of crisis, or when they need to make a political point.

    Au contraire. I think many people simply do not have much religion left in them, in the conventional sense. They may have a residual spiritual longing, but they no longer define themselves according to religion. If it plays any part in their self-description, it probably comes after nationality, age, gender, class, football team, favorite US sitcom, etc.

    Unlike yourself, I don’t tend to classify anyone by religion, unless they insist e.g. I’ve come into contact with a few female dimwits who like to go round proclaiming themselves ‘Protestant republicans’, which is a contradiction of what true republicanism is all about (i.e. namely the substitution of Protestant, Catholic or Dissenter for the common label Irishman/woman). Each to their own

    Again I disagree. Republicanism is not about substituting a political creed for a religious one (as communism tried to do) – it is about removing divisive religion from the political scene. Nothing in republicanism aims to stop private and personal attachment to any religion. Republicanism seeks the free expression of all and any religion – but aims to stop people from falsely using sectarianism to divide us. It is fairly well expressed in the 1916 Proclamation, I think. You could pick up a copy from Eirigí in front of the GPO on Saturday morning, probably!

  • Garibaldy

    Stephen,

    Nathan has it right it seems to me. Tone’s aim was to stop people identifying themselves by their religion, and to identify themselves first as citizens of Ireland. So describing oneself as a protestant/catholic/dissenting republican is to not transcend the religious identity he sought to replace.

    But you’re totally right about not wanting to remove religion from the private sphere. However, it republicanism does wish to remove religion from the public and political sphere, hence my total and utter support for the ban on visible religious symbols in French schools.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Garibaldy,

    In fact, what Tone is credited with saying was: “To unite Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter under the common name of Irishmen in order to break the connection with England, the never failing source of all our political evils, that was my aim“.

    In other words, not to substitute religious labels, or to eradicate them, but only to subordinate them in the political sphere to the umbrella label of Irishman/Irishwoman.

    This is still, I contend, the position of modern Irish republicanism. Religion must be tolerated, though not necessarily promoted, and if people chose to call themselves Protestants or Catholics, or Mormons or Jews, that is their right. Anything less would fail my definition of aa ‘republic’.

  • Garibaldy

    Stephen,

    That quote’s not exactly right. Tone said ‘to unite etc’ was his means. ‘To break etc’ was his aim. We’re not really disagreeing here. As we’ve both noted, Tone wanted to remove religion from the political sphere. That’s why I feel Nathan is right when he says that calling oneself a protestant/catholic etc republican rather than simply a republican is to miss Tone’s whole point.
    Religion of course should be tolerated. The mixing of religion and politics should not.

  • DK

    Just had a look at their website. Two dates are mentioned: 1909 and 1916. Nice and up to date with modern history then…. Berlin Wall anyone?

    And they don’t seem to be socialists, since one of the first things they mention is “british imperialist occupation of the nation” and their campaign is all about distributing copies of the proclamation of independence – they sound more like nationalists. If they were really socialists then you’d expect them to do something about the Republic first – like tackling poverty or social exclusion of immigrants etc, rather than focussing their energies on the border, which plenty of better organised people are already doing.

  • Garibaldy

    DK,

    They are indeed in my opinion left nationalists. No socialist – whose first priorities after all should be to unite all workers – could support a sectarian organisation like PSF (or the PUP for that matter) in the first place

  • Stephen Copeland

    Garibaldy,

    … calling oneself a protestant/catholic etc republican rather than simply a republican is to miss Tone’s whole point.

    Or perhaps the opposite? There is a belief amongst certain sections of our people (hint, they are mostly in the north-east) that the words ‘republican’ and ‘catholic’ are synonymous. By emphasising your non-Catholicism you can challenge that incorrect belief, and contribute towards the recognition that the concept of republicanisn does actually transcent religion.

    PS, for Nathan’s benefit, while I am not a ‘female dimwit’, I am of Protestant background, and of republican persuasion. Although I have no actual religious belief or interest, I am quite willing to use my own background in exactly the manner I have described in the paragraph above. Maybe your “female dimwit” acquaintances are doing likewise?

  • Garibaldy

    Stephen,

    I see your point, but the problem is it implicitly continues the religious thinking that perpetuates the division in the first place. It needs to be handled very carefully.

  • Nathan

    Stephen,

    I didn’t know you go round calling yourself a ‘Protestant republican’ like those female dimwit associates I came into contact with.

    I take it then from your 3.09 comment that your not disputing the fact that people bring religious background into play, in order to assist in political point scoring.

    I think its wrong to remain fixated upon peoples religious background label when we’re here to discuss politics.

    And I don’t think North East Protestants are that dimwitted, that they fail to realise that individual Protestants have contributed to the formation of Irish republicanism, and still contribute to Irish republicanism to this day, most notably in the south. If it has eluded their observation that some Prods bat for the other team, then I don’t blame them. The only ‘republican’ party in town in the north appear to be Sinn Fein, and they’re so devoid of Protestants that they had to go pinch the only token Prod the SDLP had to rely upon – Mr Leonard. Is it any wonder that ‘catholic’ and ‘republican’ are seen as one of the same?

  • Stephen Copeland

    Nathan,

    I don’t think that it is just a question of perception. I think that some unionists deliberately misrepresent republicanism in order to scare the less-informed of their brethren into line. Do you not remember the nonsense about the Tricolour being ‘green, white and gold’, to martry the green of Ireland with the white aand gold of the Vatican flag. And other such rubbish.

    Many unionists hate the thought of Protestant republicans, because it risks exposing their own threadbare political clothes. In truth, of course, republicanism is largely a Protestant creation, as most of us know.

    It is unfortunate, but sometimes neecessary, to point out that republicanism is not synonymous with Catholicism. In order to prove this, it is sometimes necessary to point to Protestants who are republicans – both past and present.

    Your point aabout Leonard may be true, but then again I suspect that many republican-minded Protestants in the north tend to keep quiet – they could find themselves targeted by the loyalists for the reasons I described above. Do you remember John Turnley? I bet his killing ‘a découragé les autres’.

  • shamo

    I think it a tad unfair to say that someone cannot be a socialist if they support a republican proclamation written by men who fought to found a state that would “cherish all the children of the nation equally”. James Connolly was probably the most profound and certainly the most prolific writer in Irish socialism, and these guys feature him on their site. I acknowledge that it may seem, at first glance, outdmoded, but we must remember that Éirigi is not a political party, but a campaigns group, and as such their sphere of activity is quite limited. They wish to provoke ieological debate, not get Mrs Murphy’s drains fixed, and they have moved away from SF’s clientelist and, in my view, careerist trajectory. Some of those involved are formerly the most active and long-term SFers in Dublin, and it will no doubt be a severe blow for the party. Many were there long before Dublin’s most high profile candidates. They number over a hundred people – quite a lot for Dublin alone, and will bring a fresh approach to republican politics in the city. Unfortunately, in my opinion, they’ll not have a significant impact on national politics in the short term.

  • Nathan

    If éirígí is merely a campaigns group rather than a political party, then why should it necessarily be a blow for Sinn Fein.

    Are you telling me that members won’t vote Sinn Fein come election time as usual?

    Surely its compatible to be a éirígí supporter and a SF/SWP/Lab member simultaneously, in the same way that someone can be a Reform Movement supporter and a PD party member. We’re dealing with 2 different types of organisations here, one being a micro-group and the other a serious political party.

  • Garibaldy

    Shamo,

    It’s a matter of deeds not words. Saying you cherish all the children of the nation equally or putting Connolly on your website but suporting or being a member of groups that seek to represent only Catholics and divide the working class in NI is hardly consistent. Never mind the issue of sectarian murder.

    Nathan,

    Indymedia has a story by eirigí about PSF’s youth wing so it appears you are correct.

  • elfinto

    By not ‘dividing the working class’ I take it you mean that people should not question imperialist rule. Just accept partition and all the shite that goes with it in case Prods get offended. It’s what I would call ‘there’s an elephant in the room but pretend you don’t see it’ type of approach.

  • Garibaldy

    No, by dividing the working class I mean shooting people for their religion on their way home from work, or saying that a fifth of the Irish people are nothing but planters etc (the type of stuff you see here regularly)

    Imperialism has many forms, and it requires the unity of all workers for a democratic and just future for all

  • elfinto

    OK, so let’s suppose that people with a non-Provo past wish to start a left wing republican organisation. Does opposing partition make them guilty of dividing the working-class?

    Incidentally, I haven’t seen any evidence that this new organisation is Provo connected (past or present).

    Futhermore, the clearest example of imperialism faced by Irish people is to be found north of the border. Nothing else comes close and to say otherwise is disingenuous.

  • Garibaldy

    Opposing partition is certainly not sectarian, and I never for a second even hinted it was. There is discussion at the link saying these people were in PSF. There’s also the indymedia thing and Shamo’s comment.

    And as for imperialism, it depends how one defines it. I accept Lenin’s definition mostly myself. So the experience of it is widespread throughout the island.

  • elfinto

    Well, the most commonly accepted defintion of imperialism is one which involves foreign administration and military occupation of another territory.

    So I think that you are being somewhat disingenous and ignoring the elephant in the room, which is your right of course.

    To equate British political and military imperialism in the north of Ireland (with attendant use of death squads etc.) with foreign economic imperialism in the 26 counties (which has a democratically elected government) is dishonest.

  • Miss Fitz

    http://www.politics.ie/viewtopic.php?t=12216

    A little more info here I think, if you want additional background and discussion.

  • Garibaldy

    Elfinto,

    I don’t think its dishonest, I think it’s applying a full and complete analysis of imperialism to the entire island, and tearing the veil from the eyes of people down below.

    I happen to think that Britain would have left decades ago had it been able to without having a bloodbath on its doorstep. A government made up of the local bourgeoisie would have managed the place just as securely in its interests. Many parts of Africa and Asia demonstrate this (not that Ireland is directly comparable). The nature of Britain’s interest in NI has changed since the 1920s, and even since the end of the Cold War. It needs to be analysed properly, as do the other impediments to a genuinely independent Ireland.

  • There is a difference between Balrog and Eirigí. Balrog is northern-based, and there the issue of religion is very closely tied up with political and cultural identity.

    —————————

    I can’t speak for any other Balrog contributor but personally I have always tried to keep my religious beliefs seperate to my political identity. As far as is possible, neither should affect the other.

  • elfinto

    Garibaldy,

    I too reckon Britain would love to be shot of the north. And, more to the point, an increasing number of Irish people in the north long to be shot of Britian for once and for all and all the patronising, racist and murderous crap that goes with British rule.

    However Britian has tied its hands by giving a veto over the situation to unionists. At the minute a bunch of religious fundamentalists are blocking all political movement and the Brits are too spineless to do anything about it. So it continues to rule the north of Ireland as a colony using colonial methods, e.g. continuing to cover up the activities of death squads. Yes, apparently they might love devolution (though they collapsed the last executive) but in the absence of that expediency will do. Witness the recent charade over the Parades Commission.

    Wheras if the electorate in the 26 counties want rid of American economics they can vote socialist at the next election.

    Jamaica, Trinidad, Cyprus, India, Pakistan, Ghana, Zimabawe, etc. All these countries have had their national independance for decades – wheras in the north of Ireland we continued to be treated like little children. It is a total humiliation but apparently instead of gurning about it, I should be seeking working class unity with my unionist brethren (who are just queuing up for such a concept). What would you suggest I do? Should I start going to loyalist band parades!!

  • Garibaldy

    No Elfinto,

    I’m suggesting that you argue your case with them, that they will be better off and have more freedom in an Irish republic. I don’t know about your personally, but the two big nationalist parties seek to represent only Catholics. This is anti-republican, let alone anti-socialist.

  • elfinto

    Because there was a heavy price for standing up to the state in NI those Protestants liberal / radical enough to realise the nature of the state tended not to do it for fear of reprisals. Thus the opposition appears Catholic dominated. There are Protestant republicans out there but just like the Larne Catholics they keep a low profile.

  • Garibaldy

    Elfinto,

    There are indeed republicans who are protestants, though I suspect very strongly that their numbers depends on how you define republicanism. The numbers are still extremely small.

    And it’s more PSF and the SDLP referring to themselves as catholics that I’m talking about here – it’s the self-definition as representatives of catholics rather than the fact most of their supporters are catholics that concerns me

  • harpo

    Doesn’t this split mean that the Provos have come full circle?

    They started off as a reaction against this sort of stuff – an IRA containing guys who were into Marxist socialist republicanism and of no practical use on the streets – and here we see the final departure from the Provos of those who presumably have had enough of the practical republicanism of the Provos which in the end turned out to contain no actual Marxist socialist republicanism.

    I’d say this is the departure of those who were of a sticky bent back in 1969/1970, but who went with the Provos as the Provos seemed to be on the rise as the new mainstream.

    It’s sort of sad though that it has taken these clowns over 35 years to work out that while the Provos always talked the talk about socialism that they didn’t actually mean any of it.

    I wonder what the final straw was that broke the camels back? The Slab Murphy fortune? The holiday homes in Donegal of the northern leadership?

    Whatever it was, this is the spitting out of the last socialist style republicans from the Provos. Now they truly are just militant little-Ireland nationalists.

  • elfinto
    ‘Jamaica,Trinidad,Cyprus,India,Pakistan,Ghana,
    Zimbabwe, (Burma) etc have had their national independence for decades.’
    And aren’t things just great in these countries!

  • Rory

    Do tell, please, Garibaldy, how your “total and utter support for the banning of visible religious symbols in French schools” manifested itself.

    Would not the prerogative of support or otherwise lie solely with the French electorate?

    I somehow have a vision of you walking the highways and byways of Ireland, wearing a beret, a hooped shirt and dangling a Gitane from your upper lip while wheeling an onion-laden bicycle, all the time shouting “Pas des crucifixes dans l’ecoles” to the bemusement of the citizenry.

  • Henry94

    There is an interesting contradiction between republicanism as a method of government and republicanism as an ideology.

    If it is for the people to govern themselves then any division of church and state must be based on the will of the people.

    The danger of ideological republicanism is that it tends to see the role of the state as imposing its ideas on the people rather than letting the people decide.

    If the supression of religion is republican then the Penal Laws were republican.

  • Garibaldy

    Rory,

    I’ve been building a guillotine in my back garden but it’s taking longer than I thought.

    Henry,

    It’s not about the suppression of religion. It’s about the separation of church and state, to prevent the religious ideas of one part of the population being imposed on all, like the Penal Laws did.

  • Rory

    Henry, Henry, Henry. What’s all this “will of the people” stuff? Dangerous talk indeed.

    Why should we have to go to all the trouble and expense of having fine fellows appoint themselves as our leaders and then still have to go through all that painful, brainracking, “exercising of the will” shenanigans when we could all be off down the pub or sitting in the comfort of our own homes, with a pizza, surfing the soft porn channels on Sky?

  • Henry94

    Garibaldy

    Are you saying the state should not promote or impose any values?

    For example if someone comes from a culture that allows polygamy should the state deny or allow that right in law?

    The reality is that the state always imoses values. That it imposes liberal values today doesn’t mean it won’t impose other values in the future.

    What you should really look for is a reduction in the scope and role of the state.

  • Garibaldy

    Henry,

    I agree that of course the state does and should impose values, otherwise society would fall apart. However, it should not use its resources for the promotion of religion, which is a private matter.

  • Dissenter

    Pseudo-intellectual, pompous, Kevin Myers wannabes. What a bullsh*t discussion.