Ex-IRA leader to address left-wing republican party…


LEFT-WING republican group éirígí has announced that Bernard Fox (pictured) will be a guest speaker at its Thomas Ashe commemoration in Dublin in September. Sinn Fein might be disappointed that the former hunger striker – who resigned as a member of the IRA army council last year – is addressing the hardline organisation, which is disillusioned with SF policies.

  • Garibaldy

    So let me get this right. Éirigí leave the Provos because the Provos aren’t left wing enough. Yet their main campaigns seem to be Brits out now and no visit by the British queen to the south. Clearly addressing the social and economic needs of the people of Ireland.

    So could it be that they are another bunch not of genuine socialists but of frustrated ultra-nationalists angry at PSF’s moderation? All of course from the front-line in Dublin.

  • Yer Woman

    Why do men of a certain age think that wearing a leather jacket will make them look more menacing?

  • Kidso

    The seeds of Erin are ready to germinate when the withered weeds of Adamsian Sprouts are harvested by the British Farmer.

  • ummmm

    I wouldn’t pigeonhole Eirígí as “hardline republicans” – I thought they left Dublin SF because SF had moved away from socialism?

    But Garibaldy defo has a point if their main themes are the tired old “brits out” mantras (do they mean the one million “Brit” fellow workers and fellow islanders in NI?) – in which case, some flippin’ socialists!

    Being a Dublin based socialist republican group I would say their problems and challlenges are a lot closer to home!

  • Éirigí have been very involved in the Rossport campaign down here it has to be said. If you look at their webpage is is a combination of more traditional republican and socialist positions.

    It is, in my opinion, a lot longer on rhetoric than it is on specific proposals, but it’s fairly clear they’re positioning themselves as a left and anti-policing alternative to Sinn Féin in Dublin.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    ‘Why do men of a certain age think that wearing a leather jacket will make them look more menacing?’

    This will be another twopenny bit political outfit. If the people in the south didn’t overwhelmingly vote for Sinn Fein in last election, they definitely wont vote for these at all. The sheer garb of them as has already been mentioned is instantly offputting. The war is long over, the bootboy boy outfits are rediculous. Same goes for the Sinn Fein colour parties that lead their demonstrations. The black clad figures look totally sinister and no doubt are at odds as well with the general public throughout the island.

  • redhaze

    Gréagóir O’ Frainclín,

    “rediculous”

    Is this an imaginative dig at this Republican Socialist group in Dublin of just piss poor spelling?

  • redhaze

    *of* should read ‘or’, which of course takes the sting out of my snipe…better luck next time.

  • sms

    the pic may misleading, it seems to have been taken years ago if i’m not mistaken. That looks like Seán Crowe, former Sinn Féin TD. carrying the banner. I didn’t know he had jumped ship.

  • redhaze

    The picture hasn’t been misleading from eirigi’s direction.

    I don’t believe this pic is from their site. I think it is from a 20th Anniversary of the Hunger Strike in Dublin.

  • Éirígí looked quite interesting when they first came on the scene not so long ago, but since then they appear to have descended into plain Britsoutery a la the provos in the 1980s. As they currently stand, they pose no major threat to the provisionals.

  • Risen Belfast

    All of course from the front-line in Dublin.

    This story emphasises how false that impression is. éirígí is growing throughout Ireland and a veteran Republican like Bernard adding his endorsement to a growing and varied list shows they are now establishing themselves as a credible voice in Belfast and throughout the six counties.

    And for those surprised that a Socialist Republican party carries out campaigns designed to highlight and challenge the British presence in Ireland, you must have a very poor understanding of what Republicanism is. Though, as the website shows éirígí is addressing a varied selection of issues/policies and is adding them at an increasing rate of knots as the party expands and establishes itself.

    éirígí abu!

  • Garibaldy

    Risen,

    My point was to have left supposedly on the grouds of socialism and then foreground campaigns more reminiscient of RSF and the rosary bead brigade suggested that the reality of the socialist claim can be questioned. Where are the campaigns on wages, housing, job creation, opposing privitisation, the expansion of free medical care etc etc? Vague statements and that’s it. The concrete activity of this organisation has been old-fashioned nationalism with no hint of socialist activity.

    As for the question of a presence outside Dublin, I’ll believe it when I see some evidence of it.

    At the minute the slogan may as well be ‘Good old-fashioned nationalism abú’

  • Belfast Gonzo

    For clarity, I nicked the pic from a 2001 edition of An Phoblacht.

  • Aaron McDaid

      do they mean the one million “Brit” fellow workers and fellow islanders in NI?

    No. It means “British Army out”.

  • Garibaldy

    Aaron,

    Just the army and not the government apparatus?
    Plus look at their statements on Indymedia as well as their websites. For them, virtually all unionists are sectarian bigots oppressing all round them. The unreconstructed nature of their view of unionism and their failure to see the pervasiveness of sectarianism throughout northern society is amazing.

    As for its potential, very little I’d say. I remember a lot of young members and supporters of PSF in Belfast and especially at QUB rejected the GFA, and attacked the leadership as producing another Fianna Fáil. Their opposition went nowhere, and many are now back in the PSF fold. I expect Éirigí to last a bit longer but to make next to no impact, especially in the north where alternatives to the Provos are doing about as well as alternatives to the DUP. One disgruntled former northern senior member of the Provos speaking at a commemoration in Dublin does not herald a significant growth in the north.

  • Kathy C

    posted by Kathy C

    I think alot of people are disillustioned with sinn fein because they see how they have been infiltrated by the british with two big spys in so many years and with the threat of a third exposure in a few weeks. It’s real easy for some of you to make fun of what a man is wearing rather than intelligently dealing with what he has to say. Many sinn fein members have left as of late. It’s not all sun shine and lollipops in shinner haven.

  • Aaron McDaid

    Hi Garibaldy,

    I must first say that I don’t know an awful lot about Éirígí other than the odd mention they get on Slugger.

    While trawling online forums it easy to find sectarian people saying “Brits out” and it is easy to find sectarian loyalists. But it’s also easy to find anti-sectarian people who simply want an end to the British government’s interference in Ireland and anti-sectarian people who want it to continue.

    I was objecting to the idea that the phrase “Brits out” can automatically be taken to mean that Irish unionists should leave.

    I also object to the idea that ‘hardline’ means sectarian. ‘Hardline’ republican could just as easily mean working for an anti-sectarian Ireland of equals.

  • Garibaldy

    Aaron,

    Fair enough.

  • J Kelly

    Kathy C some very sweeping statements many people are disillusioned and many sinn fein members have left as of late. Who, where, when because I dont see it at all. Sinn Fein as a party is growing both in numbers of activists and skills base. I believe that these claims are wishful thinking from yourself. I can honestly say that Sinn Fein in Derry is ats its strongest it has been in years.

  • looking for a home

    A lot of what has been said about eirigi fails to recognise the acheivements of this group and appears to be a hatchet jobs on a fledgling organisation.

    Whilst not a member of eirigi I have watched their development over the past year and thus far, I have been quite impressed.

    Garibaldy’s criticisms are not based on a fair analysis at all.

    eirigi was founded just over one year ago by something like seven people in Dublin. They have grown quite steadily in Dublin and enjoy the membership of the bulk of what was once the activist base for Dublin SF (see SF self-destruct in last elections). Following the last election I do believe they mopped up most of what remained.

    As a Republican Socialist group they are very concerned with ending British Occupation in Ireland. Shock horror. It makes sense to build your organisation on your core beliefs does it not? As Irish Republicans they also oppose state visits by British monarchs, which makes sense no?

    In relation to socialism and their apparent lack of campaigns which address their claim on this title, may I suggest you take another look.

    They have campaigned against Imperialism in Ireland, American military use of Shannon and against the presence of the warmongerer Tony Blair in Stormont (for which three activists are still before the courts)

    They are very prominent in the Shell To Sea Campaign, which seeks to support the community in Rossport in objecting to the Shell Oil refinery being located in their town and against the sell-off of Irish natural resources to foreign private industry when it could be used to generate revenue for health, education, etc. Irish resources for the ownership of the Irish people.

    They are actively campaigning against the massive increases in energy costs in the 26 Counties which have risen by as much as 70% in recent times and increased fuel poverty across the south, which contributes to 3,000 premature deaths a year. Bord Gais has engaged in legal action against eirigi in relation to this campaign, which highlighted an 88% increase in bills over 4 years.

    They have also committed to campaigning against water charges in the North.

    So in contrast to some claims, they have in fact been very active on both National and Social issues. Indeed for such a small grouping I’d argue that thus far they have been punching above their weight when it comes to activism.

    The people involved thus far seem to be of considerable ability and i’d expect them to grow steadily North (they already have a considerable base of activists in South Derry) and South over the coming years.

    I say good luck to them.

  • Garibaldy

    Looking for a home,

    There’s no doubt that Éirigí is punching above its weight in terms of publicity.

    As for its activism, again judging from the website and contributions to other sites such as politics.ie and indymedia, they are focused on traditional issues rather than social issues. The Shell to Sea campaign, Shannon and the campaign against Bord Gáis price rises enjoy extremely broad support. There is nothing disctinctive about Éirigí’s participation in these things.

    The campaigns they have launched to make themselves distinctive, to try and attract members, have been very traditionalist nationalist ones, not socialist ones. As for the support group around South Derry, if I understand it right from their website, this is the group that left recently with Dominic óg Mc Glinchey. So what they are doing is coalsecing unhappy members of PSF, not reaching beyond that to a new constituency for whom socialism is key. Nor are they trying to contribute anything positive to the North that I can see from their cartoonish descriptions of unionism.

    I know some on the ultra-left view Éirigí as the great white hope. But they are deluding themselves. They are nationalists. Left nationalists yes, but still primarily nationalists as they prove every day.

  • Risen Belfast

    Garibaldy,

    You highlight some of the many issues éirígí are involved in from Shell to Sea to Shannon to Bord Gáis then dismiss them as evidence of working on Left campaigns as other groups are active on these issues also, a strange argument to say the least. These are the major Left campaigns in Ireland at present and éirígí should be supporting them. They show éirígí active on the main topics concerning Socialists along with a focus on traditional Republican issues such as the British occupation of Ireland but with a clear anti-imperialist analysis. Though the party also raises many, many issues others don’t, like the sweeping welcome for non-unionised Ryanair in the six counties, poverty across the political spectrum in West Belfast, inequality and minority rights in the 26 counties and much more.

    éirígí have been existence for a very short period and only decided to move from being a purely campaigns based organisation to a political party a few months ago. They continue to grow their policies, positions and membership at a steady pace with a concentration on quality over quantity. Indeed the consultative nature of the constitution means the ongoing work of agreeing Socialist Republican positions on a range of issues is a time consuming process but one that draws input and agreement from across the membership. Remember until recently éirígí wasn’t a political party and therefore hadn’t agreed positions on a range of issues.

    What we see happening is the early stages of political development designed to create lasting growth and influence based on considered and principled analysis. The organisation is not based on being anti-anything from Unionism to Catholic Nationalism but presents its own position and seeks support solely on that.

    It is an organisation that does give great hope to Left Republicans, whether or not that moves from hope to achievement depends on the steady work being done at these early stages and gaining endorsement from the people as it moves forward. Early days but more and more Republicans and Socialists join or endorse the party every day.

    Very much watch this space as things develop over the coming years. By no means the finished article, by no means guaranteed success but fighting the good fight and doing well for a party in its infancy.

    éirígí abu!

  • Garibaldy

    Risen,

    The more people who support such campaigns the better. Of course a left group should be involved in these. My point is that for a new socialist organisation seeking to make a distinctive mark there are always social issues that can be highlighted. Why highlight the same national issues? That does not make an organisation distinctive.

    Let’s look at the major campaigns of this group since it launched. First there was giving out the Proclamation. And now we have glossy leaflets pointing out that a British garrison is still here combined with a campaign to stop a visit by the British Queen to the south. On which they will be aligned primarily with the cranks and headbangers of RSF.

    My problem with such activity from a socialist perspective is that it makes the social aspect look very much like an afterthought with nationalism coming first.

  • looking for a home

    Garibaldy,

    “The Shell to Sea campaign, Shannon and the campaign against Bord Gáis price rises enjoy extremely broad support. There is nothing disctinctive about Éirigí’s participation in these things.”

    It is ludicrous to criticise a group for not engaging in issues that matter to the people of Ireland and then dismiss their participation in these exact type of campaigns as not being meaningful simply because others are also engaged in the same. Strange.

    First off, I must challenge the assertion that because something enjoys broad support that it means that, broadly speaking, people are active on the issue. I know this isn’t exactly what you said Garibaldy but its the only thing I could think of that would make sense out of what you did say.

    If this is no, ask yourself, broadly speaking, are other people active on these issues? Are the government parties not allowing the Americans use Irish airspace and airports for military purposes? Are the government parties not responsible for selling off Irish natural resources? Which parties actively campaign against these issues?

    If there is not already broad party political activism on these issues, is eirigi’s activism not what makes eirigi distinctive on them?

    “The campaigns they have launched to make themselves distinctive, to try and attract members, have been very traditionalist nationalist ones, not socialist ones.”

    Irish Republican and not Nationalist. Understand also that Irish Republican Socialists encompass both ideologies to form a Republican Socialist party. Thus some positions will be Rebublican, some Socialist and most a combination of both.

    “As for the support group around South Derry, if I understand it right from their website, this is the group that left recently with Dominic óg Mc Glinchey. So what they are doing is coalsecing unhappy members of PSF, not reaching beyond that to a new constituency for whom socialism is key.”

    Its not a support group but a membership base.

    What is known already is that the people who founded the group are former members of SF. This is no secret nor should the fact that the individuals who make up the membership base in South Derry are former members of the same movement.

    However, these people have consistently been to the Left of the leaderships direction and have also argued long and hard within the Republican Movement that the direction offered by the leadership was a mistaken one. There have already been additions to eirigi from other groups on the left and from individuals with no political baggage. I have no reason to think that this trend will cease.

    “Nor are they trying to contribute anything positive to the North that I can see from their cartoonish descriptions of unionism.”

    Examples would be useful if this is to be taken seriously.

    “I know some on the ultra-left view Éirigí as the great white hope. But they are deluding themselves. They are nationalists. Left nationalists yes, but still primarily nationalists as they prove every day.”

    Republican Socialists I would argue but no matter. I doubt that you are willing to be convinced of the usefulness of this group.

    However, I for one would like to see them be given a bit of space to see what they come up with.

  • Risen Belfast

    Garibaldy,

    I can see where your perception is coming from but can assure you éirígí’s Republicanism is very much Connollyite, it sees no point in creating a Republic not based on principles of Socialism and social justice.

    We are talking about a party in the very earliest stages of development. As more campaigns and policies are rolled out, as time and growth permits, hopefully your concerns will be addressed. Then the real balance between these issues that exists internally will be manifest to external observers.

    I know there is an intention to expand the areas addressed and while I can see how you perceive a weighting towards anti-imperialism, at present, this will be ironed out in time. To me the balance between supporting the main Left campaigns and anti-imperialism is clear but as you note the individual, unique social campaigns aren’t strongly represented at present. Social policy is considered of equal value and intrinsically linked to the Republican policy.

    Give it time, you can’t expect perfection after a few short months as a political party.

  • Garibaldy

    Looking for a home,

    One need only look at contributions from Éirigí members to discussions on unionism to see what I mean about their views of unionism. Nevertheless, here are some quotes from the group’s website.

    Willie Frazer, who I have no time for, is described as representing “the most bigoted, sectarian and fascistic element of the pro-British population”. I’m interested here in the description of unionists as “the pro-British population”. This is the attitude of the past, which saw unionists merely as the extension and puppets of London, rather than independent people with beliefs and traditions of their own. Not even PSF thinks like this anymore, and the GFA is a recognition of the need for an internal solution to the division of the people of Ireland.

    Here are segments from another gem from last July which discusses unionist attitudes to the BNP:

    “Brutal Sectarian Attack in North Belfast 05/07/07
    However, éirígí spokesperson Dáithí Mac An
    Mháistir called the attitude of the main unionist
    parties hypocritical in the extreme. “Indeed, the
    Ulster Unionists were, for 50 years, in control
    of a one-party system that would be the envy of
    the BNP and all other racists.”

    Dáithí continued: “The DUP and UUP know exactly
    why fascist groupings like the BNP are attracted
    to the Orange marching season – because it amounts
    to a festival of sectarian hatred.” ”

    Again, not even PSF speak like this anymore, acknowlegding even at the height of the marching season that less than 20 of 3000 marches were controversial.

    I also note the absence of any condemnation of sectarian attacks against Protestants, such as the one in Ballymena a few days ago.

    So it seems that the Dublin-based leadership of Éirigí in its wisdom has decided that unionists are puppets and unreconstrcuted bigots and racists with little or no difference from the BNP. If this is not a cartoonish view of unionism then what is? It certainly makes the glancing nod on the website of the need to recruit from NI Protestants appear to be a token gesture of political correctness. It suggests that Éirigí’s view of the north is at best incredibly narrow and at worst profoundly sectarian.

  • Garibaldy

    Risen,

    I see what you’re saying about the youth of the party. However, it makes much of its claim to be based on experienced political activists from within PSF and the broader left. So I’m not sure it’s a valid excuse to say that it hasn’t had a chance to work out its positions on social issues.

    I have to say that my confidence in its socialist credentials were dented at the start by its coming out of an avowedly nationalist party and that campaigns like these have done nothing to prove my suspicions wrong. Maybe however you are correct and this will change.

  • CTN

    The hard working Eirigi party will now further drain Dublin SF of its best activists, as Eirigi continues to poach republicans of the caliber of Bernhard Fox.

    If Stadler and Waldorf don’t hand over the leadership baton soon, Dublin SF will be reduced to Dumbo on death row….