The Cuban Revolution

50 Years on from the Revolution we take a look at it’s ongoing impact

On New Year's Day, the people of Cuba marked the 50th anniversary of the victory of the Cuban Revolution. Back in January 1st, 1959 the US-backed dictator Batista was defeated and chased out of Cuba by Fidel Castro and the revolutionary guerillas of their 26th July Movement that included Fidel's brother Raul and the Ernesto Lynch "Che" Guevara.

Although the father of the revolution, Fidel, who has been out of the public eye due to ill health, he did manage to send a message to the "heroic" Cuban people. It was broadcast at midnight on New Year's Eve, during which he said: "A few hours from the upcoming 50th anniversary of the triumph, I congratulate our heroic people."

The occasion was nevertheless celebrated with a series of speeches, concerts and dances as President Raul Castro openly vowed that it would last another 50 years. In doing so he paid tribute to the martyrs of the revolution as he addressed a rally of 3,000 Santiago citizens in front of the old City Hall where his brother had proclaimed the independence of the Cuban people 50 years before hand. The newly appointed Cuban president also went on to state that: "We know that a man alone doesn't make history. But some men are indispensable, as they can have a decisive influence in the course of events. Fidel is one."

In doing so he used a quote from his brother's 2005 speech, when he warned "this revolution can destroy itself" and that, if it occurred, "it would only be our own fault." He added that the revolutionaries' victory was doubly important "for it has been attained despite the unhealthy and vindictive hatred of the powerful neighbour."
The celebrations continued following the laying of wreaths at the mausoleum of 19th century independence leader Jose Marti, at the pantheon of those who fell in the 1953 attack on the Moncada barracks and at the monument to Cuban soldiers who died fighting alongside national liberation forces overseas.

But for us here in Ireland, republican socialists will examine this historic time and its celebration to look at what can be achieved when the priorities of a nation put its people before profit. When it values human development, be it through free health and medical care or even free education for its people. Likewise this includes the internationalist role of Cuban medical teams abroad.

It is true that much has been achieved by Cuban people, in the face of enormous difficulties brought about by the US economic blockade. We have witnessed that over most of these 50 years they have tried to hinder their progress, attempted to demoralise them and misinform the rest of the world - so much the greater should be our admiration.

As revolutionary Marxists we too join with the Cuban people at this time, as with others across the world in the celebration of this historic event. In doing we, the Irish Republican Socialist Party extend our solidarity with the Cuban people in their triumph of the revolution and its gains in the face of US terrorism.

The struggle of the Cuban people is to be celebrated and held up as an aspiration for humanity. For us thechoice for humanity is clear, either socialism or barbarism!

The US Election

False Hope & the Irish Question

The dust has barely settled on what many have cited as being the final stage of the total emancipation of African-Americans in the US, that being the election to the White House of Barack Obama. For centuries African-Americans have had to endure slavery, lynch mobs, segregation and racism, but with the appointment of Obama to the Oval Office it truly was a red letter day in American history.

It is easy to get caught up in this momentous occasion and let romanticism get the better of us. Instead, we must as always approach this situation from a revolutionary perspective and address the true significance of this event for the working class in the US. and the world over.

One could forgive an American worker for being seduced by the flowing rhetoric Obama brings to the table, especially with the class consciousness of that worker yet to be awakened and developed. But behind the charisma and buzzwords such as "Change","Unity" and "Hope" which have defined the Obama/Biden ticket, is there anything meaningful for the workers of America to grasp on to? Almost certainly not. Realistically, the fact that the Obama administration's rise to the most powerful office in the world signals the end of the tenure of George W. Bush's disastrous reign, is of scant consolation to the workers.

There is no doubt that as socialist republicans our political ideology is diametrically opposed to the political philosophy Obama espouses. One must only look briefly at his foreign policies to see that the American imperialist machine will continue to roll on. Obama's opinion of the Iraq war flatters to deceive, there is no doubt that American capitalism and imperialism will be alive and well in Obama's hands, which of course we will continue to be steadfast in our opposition to.
It is indeed heartening to see the first African-American president of the United States as it shows a unity within the US that had always been tore asunder by the social-ills capitalism drags along with it.

It is a step forward for the nation socially speaking, but does it bring class unity closer by one iota? If we analyze it closely perhaps the opposite is true. Barack Obama seems the perfect candidate to distract the workers from their true class interests and instead restore a false notion of hope to the workers minds with regard to the current economic system, just when they began to ask questions.

During the campaign Obama outlined his main reason for running for presidential office in the first place. It was 'out of concern for his children's future', he said. What world will our children grow up in, what will the world be like in twenty, thirty or forty years time? The question goes beyond the American working class as it is relevant to every worker across the globe. How will the recent progressive events in South America develop and what will the situation be like in Ireland in a few decades time? How are we as republican socialists preparing ourselves and our youths to deal with the issues that will effect our class in the future? The only question we can tackle is the last one posed. It is here we can take the advice of Barack, to start thinking about the future and to act now to make it a bright one.

There is no doubt that republicanism is at one of its lowest ebbs in a long time, something which also extends to the Irish left. With the workers now tightening their belts during this current recession it seems the national question is increasingly drifting down the order of importance in the Irish psyche. The goals of Connolly and Costello seem to be farther away now than they have ever been.

But there is little point in licking our wounds and offering reluctant consent to the current political mediocrity without challenge. We must once again set about our goals with enthusiasm and conviction, meeting any future success or failure with the exact same response: unwavering dedication to taking the struggle forward.
Unfortunately the only change the American workers will see will be entirely superficial, much like the 'change' the Irish working-class has seen within the ranks of the RUC/PSNI after the Good Friday Agreement and the careerist settlement by Sinn Fein called Stormont. Barack Obama firmly nailed his colours to the mast when he endorsed the bail-out of Wall Street.

It's quite apparent where Obama's loyalties lie and they are with Wall Street, not main street. One could also make the same assertion in Ireland when asking where the allegiances of Sinn Fein lie, are they with the Irish working-class or are they with the chambers of power?

It could not be seen as a false assumption to say that once these men and women enter the corridors of power more often than not the electorate who put them there in the first place are cast aside, the pre-election promises left as a fond distant memory. To most of us it seems unthinkable that an individual government, responding to this global economic crisis, would reach into its resources and help out the very people who put them in power in the first place. They would rather let our class slide further into the pits of destitution as each day passes. But for some reason when the major financial institutions enter a crisis, there is a limitless amount of money to get them out of the mess they created themselves. Even worse, it is the taxpayers money being used to do this. Yet the working-class just accept it and raise little more than a whimper.

The corporate elites of society remain unchallenged and are continually testing the fortitude of our class. It is time to arm the working-class with the tools they need to take on society's aristocrats, the ones who's interests capitalism has been a loyal friend to. Almost certainly(although I acknowledge the sometimes tactical usefulness of electoral success) this empowerment of the working-class will not come from parliamentary success.

History has shown the pitfalls of a strategy which places all it's attention on the acquirement of seats in an existing government body, there is of course no parliamentary road to socialism. Indeed, we could look at how adopting this strategy can be detrimental to the struggle when analyzing the failure of James Connolly's ISRP, a valiant attempt at building a Marxist revolutionary party. Anyway, such a strategy even if 'successful' can very easily lead to reform. It must be clear that working within the system has certain limitations for the socialist.

Capitalism cannot be reformed or shaped and it will take a total uprooting of this economic system and the establishment of socialism before the working class will be free from exploitation. Articulate speakers like Obama may allude to change for the working people of the US, but we as socialist revolutionaries know just how empty these promises are. While capitalism exists the disastrous contradiction between worker and capitalist within the relationships of production will remain.

It was quite humorous throughout the US. presidential campaign how John McCain and Sarah Palin(the Republican candidates for the Oval Office) accused Obama of being a socialist in a derogatory way, as if somehow championing the exploited class in society was a horrible affliction. Obama of course laughed such an insinuation off, in fact he was insulted at such remarks. It is not Obama who should have been insulted, but socialist political activists across America. Socialism continues to be misrepresented across the world as some sort of repressive regime stifling creativity. Socialism is not repressive, but expressive.

Back to Ireland, where the misrepresentation of socialism is all too common also. In contrast to the Democratic presidential nominee in the USA, the Provisional Movement clings to the tag of socialism for dear life. At a recent Ard-Fheis one of their cumainn restored sanity to proceedings when they proposed that the party officially drop their socialist charade. Of course this was rejected, ensuring this important principal of Provisional policy(ie. Paying lip-service to James Connolly etc) remained in their programme. Somehow, I don't think James Connolly would have had a warm welcome to Ireland for the figurehead of modern day capitalism and imperialism. I would say this gesture irrevocably damaged the socialist credentials of the Provisional Movement but the reality is that there was not much to damage.

The US. Election, like all such elections was basically a prolonged waste of time and money. That massive quantity of funds could have been used to eliminate much of the world's increasing hunger as basic food supplies become too expensive for many on this planet, or could have prevented many unnecessary and premature deaths from preventable disease. According to the latest World Health Organisation report, thousands of preventable deaths occur every year in Ireland and the United States due to inadequate funding. Thousands more afflict the third world everyday. So what was the election for? It was to settle peacefully, and in a way that does not threaten the stability of the system, conflicts of ambition between rival bourgeois factions. The extraordinary length of the election campaigning process, stretching across years, is to give the capitalists ample time to weigh their options and select their candidate (who is de facto selected by the amount of campaign contributions s/he receives from the bosses and connections to the influential; it is the electoral college that chooses the president, not the popular vote). In other words, it had nothing to do with democracy in the correct sense of the term.

The working-class indeed had their moment, the gracious capitalists once every four years allow them to choose which candidate would be the face at the forefront of the oppressive machine exploiting them. People in Ireland both north and south of the border have a comparable choice. Firstly we can take the 26 counties. The party in government is a centre-right big business supporting party with the largest opposition party to them being politically identical. Labour and the Green Party, both of whom originally had some potential have sacrificed every principal they had at the thought of gaining power. A political void exists in Irish politics, the only difference between the 26 and the United States is that we have more choice on voting day as to who will be the next to exploit us. In the occupied 6 counties the British import of sectarianism still reigns supreme, and both Sinn Fein and the DUP exploit this to achieve more votes. Is it out of order to suggest that the workers have a choice that actually looks after their interests? At this point I will reassert the fact that socialist revolution will not come from the ballot box, but if a republican socialist stands as a candidate in an election we should by all means give them our full support.

Much has been made of his race, but in truth Obama was elected because he does not have a history of campaigning or championing the rights of African-Americans.In fact, he is the first significant African-American politician to not come out of the Civil Rights Movement. Much of his success had to do with his message that race no longer mattered, a line that compliments America's narrative on race- a version of history that owes much to wilfull amnesia.

However, it is important to note that his electoral victory - in a landslide no less - signifies a huge change in American politics. To put it simply, a great number of people voted for Obama because they believe he is going to defend workers rights, end the war and provide health care for all workers. The Huggington Post ran a story in which it quoted the head of the largest union in the USA, the SEIU, who promised to spend the first 100 days of the next congress campaigning to ensure that Obama makes good on his promises to them. This is a change in American politics we should welcome (though not the administration itself). For gone are the days of "values"-based voting, in which workers manipulated by the churches put into power candidates who were openly against their own economic interests. The USA appears to be emerging from the period in which the far right dominated political discourse- the election is being read by even mainstream sources as a referendum on the far right, who were soundly rejected by the electorate who turned out in record numbers. The Obama victory has raised morale for many progressive Americans, workers in particular(It should be noted that religion is still a strong factor for voters in certain areas, especially in conservative strongholds). The honeymoon with Obama will soon end as the sinking economy limits his options in implementing reforms, and will quite likely lead to a period of intense class struggle and possible radicalisation. As a rule of thumb, workers are most likely to be more militant if they organised and have higher expectations. A McCain/Palin victory would've been likely to diminish the working classes ability to resist, for workers would expect to be ground down by their free market policies. Therefore, when the honeymoon with Obama ends, it is the biggest opportunity for socialist workers to organise and spread their message since the Great Depression, and push past the reformist platitudes of the Democratic leadership, taking the needs and deeply felt impulses of the working class as part of their programme. If the left fails to spread and gain more influence from these opportunities, then in time the far right will regain momentum.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said that "a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus" and this is what we must be as revolutionaries, leaders in the struggle. The Irish working-class are tired of a self-serving corrupt government and need guidance. We must harness their discontent with the status quo and economic downturn and we must politicize them. Republican Socialists have got to show the working class that socialism and a revolutionary state is the only just system to live under. We have got to educate and mobilize, to show why national liberation and socialist revolution are in their interests. One would do well to remember that without the working-class no matter how educated or committed the party may be there is no hope for revolution. Accordingly, our immediate concern is to build a movement to give the working-class an alternative to a system completely unjust by nature, one which will aid and offer guidance to them as they emancipate themselves.

Soon Barack Obama will take his place as head of American capitalist interests and his temporary romantic call for change and unity once falsely inspiring to the American workers will become a fading memory as another bourgeois politician pursues the interests of his class. He will have to go straight to work to try and improve the current economic crisis caused by the unsustainable system he whole-heartedly supports. Likewise it is our duty to immediately set about our work, to produce an alternative to the current strategy of constitutionalism and reformist nationalism in the six and to destroy the imperialist and capitalist institutions, both foreign and native, that exploit our class everyday.
J. O'Neill

Freedom For Palestine!

End Occupation, End The Genocide!

As mass demonstrations on the streets took place, creating what seemed to be the only voice expressing outrage at the Zionist attacks and solidarity with the people of Palestine. The people of Ireland played its role in their opposition to the unfolding carnage.

In the capital hundreds marched to Government buildings as well as the Israeli Embassy to demand an immediate end to the genocide developing in front of our very eyes. Several humanitarian organisations working within the Gaza Strip warned from early on in the war that it was directly affecting vital aid supplies such as food, including medical aid to many hospitals on the brink of collapse as Israeli offensive continued.

Despite appeal's made for restraint, by various middle east countries, including the "United Nations" among others, it was nothing short of hypocrisy as the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown joined in on the chorus.

Just as the United State's positioned themselves discreetly with various diplomatic maneuvers which allowed the war on Gaza population to intensify, they too conspired just as British imperialism has, with Zionist terror operations throughout the years of Intifada, in particular with the continuing blockade of Gaza which has reduced the Palestinian population to near-starvation.

In London as in several other counties, violence flared as heavy police protection was given to the Embassies held by Israel. Such was the anger that in Derry, the US Military giant Raytheon, was dramatically brought to a stand still when there operations was disrupted as nine women from the Derry Anti-War Coalition occupied the building for several hours.

Following negotiations with the PSNI bringing the action to a close, the women told waiting supporters and the media that "We have taken this action in an effort to prevent or delay war crimes being committed by the Israeli Defence Forces in Gaza with the use of Raytheon weapons and to try to force a criminal investigation into the activities of the Raytheon company in Derry and elsewhere which, we believe, amount to complicity in war crimes.

Like millions of others, we have watched television pictures of innocent people being slaughtered since the Israeli assault on Gaza began on December 27th, and have wanted it to stop. But nobody with the power to make it stop seems willing to intervene to do so.

Lawyers and international human rights organisations have declared that the Israeli bombing and shelling of Gaza involves war crimes. The bombing of a UN-sponsored school on January 6th, killing at least 40 civilians, including children, has merely been the worst of these war crimes.
Raytheon's weaponry, one of Israel's main suppliers, has been used steadily in the attacks both on Gaza and Lebanon. The company is aware and doesn't care that its weapons are being used to commit war crimes.

The women's action was further highlighted when they entered along with a delegation from the DAWC a session of the Derry City Council for their lack of action in the matter.

They were informed that they had been dragging their feet by not ejecting the arms manufacture from the city, despite of evidence that the multinational arms company is one of the main suppliers of weapons to Israel, which was highlighted during the trail of the Raytheon Nine the year previously.

As peaceful protestors gathered in support of the nine women held up inside the Raytheon building, PSNI officers move in openly and aggressively attacking several people outside the building. Five were arrested while one woman, unconnected to the protest, and heavily pregnant was caught on camera being assaulted by a high ranking PSNI officer.

In Belfast and Cork as in a number of other towns and cities around the country, activists against the genocide in Palestine took other forms of direct action. Many entered supermarkets such as Marks and Spencer's, Tesco's and Sainsbury's lifting foods made in Israel and removing them from the shelves of the stores as part of a boycott campaign got underway.

As for our part here in Ireland, both North and South, as anti imperialists and anti war activists including the trade movement who unified to oppose the slaughter, we must continue to highlight all forms of Zionist aggression.

In doing so we must echo the call for focus minds on the core of the problem: the Israeli Occupation of Palestine, its failure to abide by international law and its continued takeover of Palestinian land.

Marx’s Ideas Vindicated?

A look at the recent popularity of Marxism

A global trend has emerged in which people, without being told to by the Left, or any other "experts" are looking towards Marxism for explanations to the current economic crisis. In Japan, Marxist works have become massive best sellers, with socialist ideas even produced in anime comic book adaptations.

In Britain Archbishop Rowan recently told a congregation during his sermon that "Marx was right" regarding elements of capitalism (he quickly added, "if little else"). In Germany and France Marx's works have regained in popularity and become best sellers; ironically even the capitalist head of state Sarkozy reportedly picking up Marxist texts to learn from. Germany's Finance Minister has grudgingly admitted to the validity of "certain elements of Marxist theory". Marx's birthplace in Trier has become steadily more popular to tourists who visit the site from all over the world. Following on this, The Irish Times commented that leftist ideas have retained a certain currency.

Many more examples would be available if only we had the time to list them all. In fact the few countries where this process is not happening are the usual suspects, including the United States, where socialism is still regarded as a dirty word by the mainstream.

The current crisis is not a part of the cycle of boom and bust at all, which is an important detail that sets it apart from other economic crises. To put it crudely it's basically a crisis in finance capital due to deregulation that's snowballing out of control.

It's going to be deadly for workers all over the world as rising prices and foreclosures on homes cause misery, even worse in many nations where it will push the price of food causing more hunger. Crucially, as of now there is nothing to point to that can lift capitalism out of the pit its dug for itself., a capitalist analyst publisher, offered a detailed explanation of why there is presently no sign of any rebound in the article "Why Conventional Market Wisdom is Wrong".
It's an issue worth studying because unlike socialist revolutions which were defeated under the worst conditions possible, capitalism is near collapse in the best possible circumstances, with nearly every advantage, and tellingly, the crisis started in the most powerful capitalist state.

Is this a sign that Marxism's analysis has been to a large extend vindicated? Yes, but at the same time, it is a telling indication that, absent a mass movement of disenfranchised workers who are organising and guided by Marxist theory, the ruling class do not fear Marxism. While it re-affirms the validity of scientific socialist theory, it also represents a trend of making Marxism more acceptable.

This was a historical process Lenin himself commented upon and warned of. For while many bourgeois intellectuals and politicians may borrow from some elements of Marxist analysis, they of course shy away from Marx's conclusions - that class contradictions point to a proletarian revolution which overthrows the state and in its place sets up new organisations of a state that is dominated by the working class. Unlike the time in which the Manifesto was written, the ruling classes are not trembling at the thought of communistic revolution.

In fact many commentators have warped Marx's ideas with a kind of moralist tinge, as if the crises today are deviations from good behaviour, not inherent systemic features of the capitalist mode of production that is forced to extract more profits or face collapse.

Repeatedly emphasised in most media references to Marx's ideas being right is that his theories are only partially correct. Since capitalism has not yet collapsed, and the Manifesto predicted workers' revolutions to follow on the heels of the democratic/bourgeois revolutions, it begs the question: was Marx wrong about a terminal crisis causing capitalism to fall?

The answer is that events unforeseen by Marx in his lifetime have extended the longevity of capitalism, yet the core prediction of capitalism destroying itself remains valid. The specific answers are found in Leninism and the writings of Connolly. Both emphasised that capitalism extended its longevity through conquest and colonialism, which provided a higher living standard for crucial sections of the working class in imperialist countries.

In effect, some workers were "bought off" or at least dissuaded from revolution, (recall that up until WWII, even the USA suffered repeated episodes of class struggle that turned so violent they became revolts and even incipient revolutions) and turned into loyal defenders of capitalist rule from its enemies.
They argued, as Che would later, that the triumph of anti-imperialist forces brought the world a step closer to revolution.
Therefore, the central prediction of scientific socialism, the tendency for the rate of profit to fall, (capitalism requires more and more investment in education, infrastructure and technology that cuts into profits) has not been dismissed, rather it has been enhanced by the fact that new policies sought to deal with its impact, namely imperialism that has increased poverty in the Third World through super-exploitation.

There is a limit to how long capitalism can extend its life through fresh conquests and expansions. At this point, the ruling class of the most advanced capitalist countries actually face diminished prospects and no good choices in sight, despite their triumphant rhetoric. The very last of the large isolationist states have been opened to the market after the Cold War ended.

This has led to a situation of raw capitalist banditry and savagery, and has led to a situation in which "the true gap between the best modern armed forces... and those of the developing world, is now closer to what prevailed in the Age of Empire than in more modern times" as military analyst Daniel Moran argued in the book Wars of National Liberation.

China's entry into the capitalist market may be the signal that a global capitalist decline that is terminal is on history's agenda. A recent book by Prof Minqi Li contends that the integration of China into the global capitalist system marks the beginning of the end for capitalism.

The author states that "Historically, geographic expansions have been a major mechanism through which the system brought in new areas of low costs that helped to check the secular tendency of rising pressure on profitability. ...China therefore has functioned as a strategic reserve for the capitalist world-economy and the mobilization of this large strategic reserve in fact signals the impending terminal crisis of the existing world-system."

One can safely assume that the above quoted passage on China will not find its way into any archbishop's sermon!
One of the most visible signs of the 'new Northern Ireland' has been the immigration instead of the traditional emigration. It is estimated 35,000 people belonging to ethnic minorities have settled in the North and there are another 50,000 migrant workers. Their number has recently trebled. According to the Department of Social Development, 5826 national insurance numbers were issued to immigrants in the year 2004/2005, while a total of 15 614 were issued in the following year 2005/2006. (1)

The majority of those new immigrants come from the new EU states, Poland in particular. A majority of them tend to work in the manual and service sectors, while only a small proportion work in professional sectors. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions reported that migrant workers experienced widespread racism, sectarianism and exploitation in terms of pay and working conditions. (2)
Parallel to this wave of immigration, has been the increasing number of racist attacks. Racist incidents have rocketed during the peace process: from 41 in 1996 to 936 in 2006. (3) Because of this, "Northern Ireland has been dubbed the race hate capital of Europe". (4) A study carried out by Vani Borooah, professor of applied economics at the University of Ulster, and John Mangan, professor of economics at the University of Queensland for the economics journal Kyklos confirms that Northern Ireland is the hate capital of the western world. Not only does Northern Ireland have the highest proportion of bigots, but the bigots are on average more bigoted than those in other countries.

Nearly 32,000 people in 19 European countries as well as in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US took part in the human beliefs and values survey. They were asked: Would you like to have persons from this group as your neighbours? The five groups were people of another race, immigrants or foreign workers, Muslims, Jews and homosexuals. In Northern Ireland 44% of the 1,000 respondents did not want persons from at least one of the five groups as their neighbours. As regards each of the five groups, the percentage of respondents in Northern Ireland who would not like them as neighbours was homosexuals (35.9%), immigrants or foreign workers (18.9%), Muslims (16%), Jews (11.6%) and people of a different race (11.1%). For the same groups, the average of all the countries surveyed was respectively 19.6%, 10.1%, 14.5%, 9.5% and 8.5%. (5)

According to the 2005 Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey, Protestants were found to be more likely to be racist and xenophobic than Catholics. (6)

The German magazine Der Spiegel (28 February 2005) branded Belfast the most racist city in the world and blamed loyalists for that fact. (7) It is estimated that loyalist death squads are behind 90 percent of hate crime. (8) The reason for this goes deeper than the fact that sections of Loyalism have had relationships with fascist groups in Britain over the last three decades; it is that intolerance is intrinsic to Unionism: "It is a political position which is circumscribed by the very foundation of the Northern Ireland state. When Ireland was partitioned, northern unionists abandoned their fellows in three counties of historic Ulster (Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal) and went for self-government of six counties on the grounds that they could continue to maintain a majority over nationalists in six counties much easier than in nine. As a result, there is a strong strain in Unionism which encourages protectionism, conservatism, narrowness of vision and opposition to anything which may threaten its need to be in the majority.

Traditionally, the threat to majority has been seen to come from the nationalist community. But it is a small step to extend one's attention to any new 'threats', including those from the minority ethnic community. Thus those unionists of Craigavon who oppose the mosque have not suddenly discovered a streak of intolerance which was not there before; they have been intolerant of nationalists for generations.

And the loyalists of the Village have likewise in the past shown their intolerance towards Catholics in their midst; it is not a major step to apply the same principles and tactics to others who move into the area. While unionist and loyalist leaders may condemn their fellow loyalists who act in this way, just as former Ulster Unionist chief David Trimble condemned the councillors of his own former party who have opposed the building of a mosque, intolerance within Unionism is a legacy which has not been overcome by recent peace moves, modernisation or realpolitik." (9)

Despite an official ideology of anti-racism, the state is often content to ignore the issue: "This was emblemised by the apotheosis of the late George Best -who had infamously suggested that 'Pele wasn't bad for a nigger' and confirmed his attitudes to race when he suggested of Andy Cole that '£7 million was a lot to pay for a nigger'. It is ironic, therefore, that murals of Best have become the acceptable face of 'post-conflict' loyalist Belfast and that the Government makes a point of emphasising its support for migrant workers rights in George Best Belfast City Airport. The disavowal of Best's racism says something profound about the priorities of government and community in terms of race -certainly it would seem impossible that Ron Atkinson -himself disgraced for a singular use of the term 'nigger' - would be featured on a £5 note or lending his name to an airport." (10)

Tj O’Conchuir

(1) Kate Chambre, Immigrant workers keen to pay their way, The Newsletter, 31 July 2007
(2) NI migrant workers 'exploited', BBC 18 December 2006
(3) Suzanne Breen, Has peace made us the race hate capital of the world? Sunday Tribune 2 July 2006
(4) Angelique Chrisafis, Racist war of the loyalist street gangs, The Guardian 10 January 2004
(5) Kathryn Torney, Northern Ireland: hate capital of western world, Belfast Telegraph, 7 February 2007
(6) Mark Oliver, Ulster justice system 'institutionally racist', The Guardian 26 June 2006
(7) Debra Douglas, Mag brands Belfast most racist city: Der Spiegel lays blame on Loyalists, Belfast Telegraph, 2 March 2005
(8) Henry McDonald, Loyalists linked to 90 per cent of race crime, The Observer 22 October 2006
(9) Bill Rolston, Legacy of intolerance: racism and Unionism in South Belfast,
(10) Robbie McVeigh, Has Peace made us the Race hate Capital of the World? in What to do about racism and the exploitation of migrants? Supplement to Fortnight, March 2007

Youth Politics in Ireland

From street activism to the revolutionary party

If we take an honest look at the state of youth politics in Ireland it's not surprising to see why the Xbox is preferred to the ballot box.

Often the first introduction someone gets to politics these days is in university. Student politics is in equal measure both an uninspiring and inconsequential phenomenon. Some of the stalwarts of student politics around the campuses in Ireland include the youth wings of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. I think the high numbers of members these groups attract says a lot about the ideological void present within politics in the 26 counties especially. These two party's are almost identical ideologically wise, so why the huge rivalry? It is often the scenario that these two groups 'inherit' support with parents passing on their political preference to their children. I'm afraid the rivalry is as petty as that in many instances, it is certainly not based on an ideological rationale.

Parties of the left also place a huge emphasis on recruitment in 3rd level education, a strategy that is extremely flawed. Party's like the Socialist Party and Socialist Workers Party consciously target the 3rd level educational institutions across Ireland in an attempt to swell their ranks, but as a revolutionary socialist organisation is this the way forward for the RSYM? Definitely not.

There is little point in recruiting a membership that stays loyal to our ideals for the few years their college course lasts. The RSYM aren't out to gather together a handful of middle class 'trendies' to picket the odd event with the lure of the few pints afterwards as the main incentive offered for this activity. One has to take a step back and analyze the exact role a youth wing has to play and we can all agree it is not to attract members of a transient nature to make some protests look better before these protesters inevitably move on from college and leave behind any leftist ideology they encountered. So what exactly is the role the youth movement has to play?

A youth wing long-term has to be a body that produces high quality members to move on to the main party because in effect they are the future leaders of the party. It is of course imperative that the structure of the youth movement is compatible with this aim, ie. It must have in place a definite structure which allows the leading members who move on to the main party to be readily replaced without any damage at all to the workings of the youth movement.
Items like a collective and never top-heavy leadership are not just desirable but extremely necessary for the success of the youth wing, it can never come to a stage whereby the group becomes dependent on one, two or three members.

This can have severe consequences, it cannot even be considered for what would happen if these people in such a position become troublesome or leave? The whole movement from grass roots to leadership will be shattered.

It is obviously vital that education and organization take precedent over everything else. Protests and such actions aren't revolutionary by nature, there is little point in such actionsaren't revolutionary by nature, there is little point in such actions unless the ones carrying them out have a clear mind as to why they are protesting, what's their alternative and how they are going to go about achieving that alternative. Accordingly agitation and activity must always tie in with education, as Lenin said "Without a Revolutionary Theory there cannot be a Revolutionary Movement".

One of the larger youth movements in Ireland today is Ógra Sinn Féin and their actions this year attracted a lot of attention. They seem to espouse the reasons why a youth movement should have a degree of independency from the main party itself, otherwise that movement would end up just like OSF, a puppet of the main party. It is clear as day that actions carried out by OSF have been designed to distract from the failings at Stormont and show the grass roots and youths that they are still somehow dedicated to radical revolutionary politics.

The people's flag is deepest red in case OSF forgot this, when as a supposed socialist party, they painted the post boxes around the occupied 6 counties green(I didn't know imperialists had a patent before socialists on the colour red, I suggest this was a waste of energy and paint when they could have painted pensioners homes instead). But this grass root action and attempt at radicalization was nothing in comparison to the charade that happened when George W. Bush paid a visit to the Provisional's Deputy First Minster Martin McGuinness. As one part of the PRM(provisional republican movement) welcomed the world's most famous terrorist the other protested outside.

If people think the suit-clad boys in the upper echelons of the PRM didn't give the go ahead to the demonstration outside they are mistaken, it was a glaringly obvious attempt by the top brass to somehow save face and to distract from reality. A youth movement at all costs must not be allowed to be manipulated like that, the leadership of the youth wing must have the final say on all activities.

I have already alluded to the failings of a recruitment policy based within colleges and universities. It is an accepted stomping ground for groups like Young Fine Gael and Ógra Fianna Fáil but the opposite is true for a revolutionary socialist movement.

Of course throughout history there have been many notable exceptions where student rabble-rousers have achieved amazing things(In Cuba for example people like José Marti and Fidel Castro draw their origins from student politics) but in general terms it is wiser to place the recruitment emphasis on another path.

Why shouldn't the young wing of a party, amongst all it's other activities, seek to achieve a grounding of support in working-class areas across Ireland which will stand the group in good stead for years to come? So in essence the best way forward would possibly be a concerted effort solely focused on the rural and urban homesteads that house our class.

It is not easy to build the 'Red Base' but the youth wing aligning itself to such a task and engaging with our class will not only bring our goals closer but give the youths great confidence and experience from interacting in a personal capacity with the working-class. The way of the republican socialist revolutionary does not find its foundations in the halls of the current educational system(although I would encourage efforts in this regard to complement all other activities as every possibly progressive avenue should be used) but on the streets. It is street politics combined with a strong ideological reasoning that will really make a positive difference to a revolutionary movement.

Youths generally find the ins and outs of bourgeois politics intolerably boring, which is not particularly surprising by any stretch of the imagination. The mantra is true that in the politics of the bourgeoisie if voting really changed anything they would make it illegal.

The path of constitutionalism is one hardly going to inspire the young people of Ireland. They feel alienated and excluded…and they are correct in their assertions! Is it any wonder the youths of today feel politics are unimportant when their only contribution to the political landscape is one vote every couple of years for a candidate that they don't necessarily agree with?

The politics we as republican socialists offer is of a different sort, politics directed towards the eventual goal of a Workers Republic where the influence and desires of the people are expressed through the political status quo. That indeed is something which appeals to our youths and to our class as a whole, it is in their interests. It is often said that socialist principals are reserved for the young people in society who have yet to realize the harsh realities of normal life. They have yet to experience being in debt, paying huge bills etc…the capitalist gives us our wages with one hand and with the other he takes it away. The people who make these false assumptions are not politically educated. It is because of the current system that these harsh realities actually exist in the first place!

It says something that people unused to the capitalist system have serious reservations about it. Since when did it become a bad thing asking questions and seeking to find a better order of things? There is a lot of wisdom within the curious questioning the system comes under from Irelands young people.

These uncertainties must be harnessed and developed by a revolutionary movement, one which offers guidance to those unwilling to conform to this unsustainable system. There must be a movement through which youths can express their opinions and discontent with what they see as blatant exploitation and hypocrisy.

Of course the capitalists have seen this opportunity and tried to nip it in the bud by attempting to create a sham version of what is necessary with initiatives such as the mock Dáil for young budding politicos. In this mock parliament the youngsters have the pleasure of experiencing the high life of an Irish politician before voting on the most uninspiring and pointless motions that could be found. It is indeed a decent apprenticeship for a future with one of the major party's in the 26 counties.

When the emphasis is on careerism and material gain at expense of the general welfare of the people of Ireland it is a bad state of affairs and it is time such self-serving institutions were smashed. Youthful resistance has got to be more than a simple two-fingered salute to the current establishment.

The RSYM and similar groups across the globe have got to focus this discontent, they have to mould such sentiment into an educated, politicized and articulate defiance. There is much uncertainty at the moment with economies suffering the effects of the flawed system that is capitalism.

I look forward to seeing the IRSM seize the initiative and build a future where the children of Ireland will indeed be cherished equally and where when a revolutionary state is formed the wishes and needs of the people will be expressed through an accountable and just system.

Our young people must not be dismayed when they are labeled as irrelevant and as dissidents, dissention is a good thing when we live in a society that puts the dollar before the scholar. They must join us in our struggle. Onwards to the Workers Republic.


Workers, Bankers & Patriotism

In the media we hear about a phantom loyalty our elected representatives spew out to the public. They tell us to cast aside our consumerist instincts and restrain from shopping across the boarder. This capitalist call to arms attempts to play on peoples latent nationalistic instincts, a false call for patriotism. Surely our government can perceive the blatant contradiction that the people can see from such a spurious call to wallets. For was it not the gombeen champions of the underhand brown letters which have helped cultivate the current materialistic nature of free state Ireland?

They were responsible for the creation of a true consumerist society where rationale is dominated by what is best for the consumer. No other process of thought was promoted with such zealous as that of a true materialistic society. Nothing was ever enough and a bargain was what we all sought. How ever with this new development of mass consumerist migration to the cheaper watering holes north of the border the government and their bed mates in big business appeal to consumers to restrain their over eager capitalist instincts and patriotically purchase from the less competitive southern markets. Such appeals stagger belief with the sheer contradictions blatantly obvious.

Look no further than the golden boy of the Fianna Fail Celtic tiger generation, Bertie Ahern. The self proclaimed “socialist” is now beating the Republican drum claiming he has always supported a united Ireland. This “Republican Socialist”, a figurehead still in Fianna Fail, exalts his Republican inclinations. But yet his parties appeal to patriotism is only trumpeted when their capitalist policies come tumbling down. Fianna Fail can stand idly by when their own people are brutalised just a few miles over the border and ridicule the great and fallen patriots but pull out the patriot card when developer’s bank balances are at risk.

Why would any worker south of the border listen to such spurious claims for patriotism when the very people who trumpet such contradictions want to cut back on elderly medical cards and are even considering cutting spending by 50% for disabled students in third level education?

How is any man meant to feel patriotism for a consumerist society that hits the vulnerable first? Why should the vulnerable minorities pay for the crimes of speculating capitalists whose greed exceeded their sense? These same speculating capitalists who but a year ago were receiving millions in bonuses while they were leading the nation down the garden path to economic ruin. What are the economic reverberations for them? Will they go hungry? Will they be able to pay for their mortgage? Will they be able to pay for the best consultants? Yes on all counts.

What is most ironic is that these very same bankers will keep their jobs thanks to the government’s economic bailout worth billions. That very money which was extracted from the taxes of the workers, the same workers who will in all likelihood lose their very jobs thanks to the greed of the wealthy. Surely such irresponsible behaviour warrants some form of punishment? But yet it is quiet on the political front. Fianna Fail, Fianna Gael, Labour, PSF all tow the line. How is it that a bank robber can get years of incarceration for stealing a few thousand and yet a banker whose greed brings down an economy can sit smugly while thousands lose their jobs? It is a shining example of how the system protects the establishment. For white collar crime costs more to the economy and does more damage than blue collar crime but yet white collar crime is totally under prosecuted and the sentences are miniscule in comparison to blue collar crime.

There are the same cries for justice against the speculating capitalists around the world. In Germany the fastest growing party is a party by the name of Die Linke (the left). This party wants prison time for the bankers and it is winning widespread support. But yet our Free State parties say nothing.

Would it be that their junkets at the Galway Races wouldn’t be as profitable if they alienated the speculating capitalists? Would it be that the under hand brown envelopes wouldn’t be as thick? And yet with all this blatant hypocrisy on show the government has the nerve to ask the workers to be patriotic. What we all should be asking is where the banker’s patriotism was when they were driving the nation into economic ruin?

The old saying the one in the suite is the one with the loot is appropriate. But what is one to do in such blatant injustice. It is obvious that no justice can be found with the current establishment parties who have fully embraced their class interests. They protect the status quo while any repercussions to the working class are treated with blind indifference.

That is where we, the RSM, must emerge for it is the working class that our allegiance must lay. We must defend the interests of the working class from the exploitation of the bourgeoisie. We must encourage the working class to mobilise through radicalised unions such as the IWU. Through community projects such as the CFAD which is doing sterling work in North Belfast to tackle the drug problem.

Through the housing committees such as the NBCRA which is campaigning for an end to the Sectarian housing problem. It is only through the likes of these Community initiatives of the working class people that real change can ever be realised. So many are satisfied to be handed the crumbs off the Bourgeoisie’s table, but when the speculating capitalists greed runs the economy into the ground there are no more crumbs to be handed. It is now time to radicalise the workers that the mask of respectability falls from the face of capitalism. The empty words of patriotism in the market place must be shot down with the empowerment of the working class.

For too long the working class has waited hand on foot for bourgeoisie interests, now it is time to shed the shackles. For it will not be the speculating capitalists who will go hungry or lose their house, it will be you.

Make no mistake that sympathy will not be forth coming with ever decreasing profit margins. The working class must be empowered to ensure that another generation will not be forced into economic migration to simply feed their families. There is enough on this island for everybody’s need but not for speculating capitalists greed and all the patriotic consumerism in the world won’t change that.
Ian Mc Loughlin

The Growth Of The IRSM

The motivation behind it & the input of former Prisoners Of War

On a personal level I have seen a number of changes in the RSM since I became first involved with the Movement.

The formation of the RSM was like a breath of fresh air to myself and a number of other comrades as we felt that the movement we were in,” The Officials”, had become stale and lacked motivation.

The ideas and principles that Seamus Costello proposed were based on everything that I had originally joined a revolutionary organisation to adhere to. Unfortunately the fledgling RSM did not get time to establish itself as there was a pogrom of intimidation and murder from their former comrades that unfortunately took up most of the RSM’S time and energies in trying to defend its members.

This pogrom lasted only a few months but it halted the RSM’S progress in the political arena and it took a long time for it to recover. It would be unfair to suggest that that was the only obstacle in their way as the state forces on both sides of the border seemed to be over zealous in their attempts in destroying the RSM as a whole.

One has only to recollect The Sallins Train Robbery when RSM members were physically and mentally abused by Free State forces only later for them to be acquitted. It was not until around the time of the Hunger Strikes that the RSM came to the forefront of Politics in the Belfast area with the election of two city councillors to the City Hall. During these times the Military wing of the movement continued with its war against the British war machine registering a number of successful operations all around the country.

Unfortunately every war has its casualties and the RSM were no exception with a number of its senior members being assassinated by Loyalists and others Killed In Action. Although normally a relatively small and tight knit organisation, they were always represented and were able to get their point across. This was evident in the H Blocks of Long Kesh when a number of RSM prisoners took part in the Hunger Strikes with the eventual death of three of them. The Supergrass system halted the rsm;s progress with a large number of its members being basically interned on remand.

Tragically there were other splits developing within the movement were dominant personalities played a major role which ultimately resulted in the death of more volunteers.

Unfortunately as times changed the RSM were beginning to get left out of the Political arena and were banned from speaking at rallies and demonstrations around the country. This led to tensions with other Republican Organisations with even RSM prisoners being physically removed from the Prison Wings as they were classed as common criminals.

Thankfully they were eventually given their own wing but this ostersization policy left a lasting impression on the prisoners. .Not to be humiliated, the prisoners made their own statement to the outside world with the assassination of mass murderer Billy “King Rat” Wright.

The RSM opposed the signing of the Good Friday Agreement stating that, among other things, it could not work as the minority I all of Ireland still held the upper hand and that all groups were not represented equally.

Although a minority grouping within the movement tried to dictate the calling of a premature ceasefire, this was dealt with eventually and the movement called a ceasefire when it was the political thing to do and benefited from the release of its Political prisoners.

The RSM has had its problems in the past with different splits and defections but it has always come through and overcame any obstacle that was put in front of it. With the Stormont Assembly at a standstill the Movement in general in generating more and more support within the communities as people are becoming more disillusioned with the Political Stalemate.
People are realising that what they voted for in the elections are not what they are getting delivered. The formation of Teach na Failte, the support group for Republican Socialist ex-prisoners brought a number of former prisoners back together again by allocating jobs and helping them with their own basic problems. Before this group was set up there was nowhere for RSM ex-prisoners to go for help and as a whole felt isolated in their communities.

Local Cumanns are also getting bigger and one has only to look at the Easter Parade these last two years where the starting point had to be moved another mile down the road to facilitate the growing number of supporters attending.

Meeting at this event has rekindled old acquaintances and former comrades can reminisce about former memories and so this in turn has not only swelled the ranks at Easter but contributed to the membership of the RSM. Former comrades realised that The RSM were getting stronger and realised that they had a role to play and a lot to offer the movement as a whole.

The erection of Memorial plaques around the country has galvanised a lot of former comrades and they have come forward to offer what help they can. This was realised when commemorations were held before the unveiling of these plaques as the number of ex-prisoners and former comrades grew at every march.

Many of these ex-prisoners had been incarcerated in the Cages of Long Kesh in the late seventies and had taken a back seat after their release but the direction of the movement and the absence of dominant personalities encouraged a lot of them to return to offer whatever help they could. This was evident when committees were formed and protest marches were planned as more and more ex-pows came to the fore.

Their involvement in the movement is priceless as they have experience in how the movement used to be organised also how things developed in prison. When I sit at meetings and former prisoners are present their input is generally accepted with a certain degree of reverence as they have normally been in a similar situation before and they would have some experience in how to deal with it.

Gerry Murray

We’ve Got The Power!

The meaning behind our working class politics

What concrete difference could Republican Socialism make for ordinary people? To put it in simple terms, our fundamental political argument is that society has to chose whether it wants to promote sickness or promote health and the well being of individuals.

The current social and economic system, capitalism, increases inequality, which results in more people being sick and ill. This is why we argue for socialism, a way of organizing society and the economy which aims at reducing inequality and enabling people to live longer and better.

Our current society is based on inequality. In 2008, the top fifth of the world's people in the richest countries consume 86% of the world's goods, enjoy 82% of the expanding export trade and 68% of foreign direct investment -the bottom fifth barely more than 1% of all this. (1)

The market economy far from diminishing poverty and inequality will increase them. According to a United Nation report published in October 2008: "The cumulative effect of unequal distribution [of wealth] has been a deep and lasting division between rich and poor. Trade liberalisation did not bring about the expected benefits." (2)

The benefits of economic growth over the last 25 years -a period of rapid globalisation- have been shared most unequally among countries. In 1980, the richest countries, containing 10% of the world's population had a gross national income 60 times that of the poorest countries, containing 10% of the world's population. By 2005 this ratio had increased to 122. Income inequality applies of course not only between but also within countries. The trend over the last 15 years has been for the poorest quintile of the population in many countries to have a declining share in national consumption. (3)

What about Ireland? Last year, the United Nations published its Human Development Report. In an effort to compare like with like, it assessed the Human Poverty Index for 18 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries - and the 26 counties ranked 17th.

Last year also marked the publication of another report: Bank of Ireland Private Banking published its annual Wealth of the Nation report - and the picture painted was rather different. According to it, in terms of net wealth per capita, the 26 counties was the world's second-richest country after Japan.

At first glance, it is difficult to square those contradictory and remarkably symmetrical figures - second in terms of wealth, and second in terms of poverty - unless one examines how that wealth is distributed. The internationally accepted measurement of wealth equality/inequality is the Gini coefficient: a score of 0 indicates perfect equality, while a score of 100 indicates perfect inequality - ie, one person controls all income and assets.

According to the most recent figures published by the UN, the 26 counties score 34.3 - together with Greece and Indonesia, and just above Egypt. (4)

The 6 counties fare even worse. The Poverty and Social Exclusion NI survey revealed that inequality in the 6 counties is greater –a Gini coefficient of 42. (5)

Capitalism is literally a sick system, because it is bad for your health. In its 2008 report, the World Health Organisation states that the inequality generated by capitalism is killing people "on a grand scale". For example, In the United States, 886 202 deaths would have been averted between 1991 and 2000 if mortality rates between white and African Americans were equalized. (This contrasts to 176 633 lives saved in the US by medical advances in the same period.) If the infant mortality rate in Iceland were applied to the whole world, only two babies would died every 1000 born alive. There would be 6.6 million fewer infant deaths in the world each year. (6)

Research by the Institute of Public Health and the Combat Poverty Agency estimates that in Ireland today, there are 5400 premature deaths each year as a result of social and economic inequality. Official figures from their 2008 Tackling Health Inequalities - An All-Ireland Approach to Social Determinants report show that those further down the social ladder run at least twice the risk of serious illness and premature death as those near the top.

For example, almost 40 per cent of people at risk of poverty in the 26 counties report suffering from a chronic illness, compared with 23 per cent of the general population. The pattern is repeated in the 6 counties, where some 47 per cent of unskilled workers suffer from long-standing illnesses compared to 30 per cent of professionals and managers.

The difference in age-related death rates between the lowest social and highest classes is 200 percent. People in the lower occupational groups die prematurely of cancers, cardiovascular diseases and other fatal diseases at a rate of twice, three times, six times, even 20 times the rate of people in the higher occupational groups.
The report quotes research by the Department of Health in the 6 counties which estimates that at least 5,000 fewer people would die prematurely each year across the island of Ireland through the tackling of social deprivation and inequalities. So the more inequality there is the more people are sick and ill.

The example of China shows that when a country attempts to build socialism, its citizens tend to have better health, whereas when it promotes free market policies, more people are ill. According to the WHO: 'Even globalisation's vaunted 'winners' such as China achieved much of their growth without adhering to anything approximating free market policies. Most of China's poverty reduction and improvements in population health occured before integration into the global market.

Between 1952 and 1982, infant mortality fell from 200 to 34 per 1000 live births and life expectancy at birth increased from about 35 to 68 years. Indeed, it is since China deregulated its domestic markets and accelerated export-oriented industrial development that both income inequality and inequity in access to health care have increased dramatically.' The WHO report also commends Cuba for its universal child development services. (7)

Brian Cowen's recent budget does not advance socialist policies. Nor does that of the Stormont Assembly. On the contrary, they will increase inequality and therefore deaths. It is a "lethal" budget. Expect longer waiting lists, more people on trolleys, more premature deaths. Already over 5400 people die prematurely in Ireland every year because of the scale of inequality in this society. This Budget means the premature death rate will increase, killing them softly with the words 'protecting the most vulnerable'. But is an alternative materially possible? The gross national income of the 26 counties in 2007 was €162 billion.

Vincent Brown made the following calculation to illustrate how a redistributive policy could work: "Say the State needs a generous one-third of this to supply security, the justice system, policing, education, health care and the rest (aside from social welfare). That would be €54 billion: way in excess of what Brian Lenihan is proposing to spend, including social welfare, next year and no budget deficits or borrowings. That leaves €108 billion for the 1.4 million households, which works out at €77,000 per household. No problem. We can all live on that. No poverty, no premature deaths because of inequality.

Some people that we need to stick around would, perhaps, sulk and leave if they got only €77,000. Okay, let's agree to give 20 per cent of people twice that figure on average. So, they get €43 billion and the rest of us have to make do with €65 billion, which leaves us with €58,000 per household.

That's still okay, for the State would be providing entirely free health and education and there would be lots of public transport and housing. All right, say they need more, three times the average, €231,000 per household. This would still leave €43 billion for the rest of us, which would work out at €38,000 per household. We could settle for that even if 80 per cent of the population were getting only one-third of the annual national income." (8)

Republican Socialism could prevent the premature death of over 5000 people every year, reduce the suffering of thousands of others, and provide health and well being for the people in general. The quality of life of ordinary people would be much better. This is what our politics are concretely about.

Liam O’Ruairc

(1) Commission on Social Determinants of Health - Final Report, Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health, World Health Organisation, 2008, 36
(2) John Vidal, Wealth gap creating a social time bomb, The Guardian, 23 October 2008
(3) Commission on Social Determinants of Health - Final Report, op.cit., 37-38
(4) Paula Clancy, Shocking price of inequality not one we can afford to pay, Irish Times, 7 October 2008
(5) Goretti Horgan, Class in Northern Ireland, in Sara O'Sullivan (ed), Contemporary Ireland: A Sociological Map, Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2007, 322
(6) Commission on Social Determinants of Health - Final Report, op.cit., 29-30
(7) Ibid, 132, 55
(8) Vincent Brown, Talk of protecting vulnerable is claptrap, Irish Times, 15 October 2008

When the Law makers are the law breakers

The recent decision by the Saville Tribunal to further delay the publication of its final report into the state murders on Bloody Sunday is nothing short of a shambles, despite of almost £200m legal costs since it got underway back in 1998, the report which had been planned to be released earlier this year is now thought to be published later next year.

For the relatives of those both murdered and injured, just like the wider populous in Derry if not Ireland, it is of course disappointing however there is an overall sense that, we have waited this long now that we can wait a little longer. The tribunal itself has sat for over 433 days in Derry and in London, hearing evidence from both soldiers and eye witnesses. (1)

It has been said that more than 920 witnesses were heard including the British Prime Minister back in 1972, Sir Edward Heath, police, IRA members and priests. The inquiry team interviewed and received written statements from about 2,500 Bloody Sunday marchers, witnesses and members of the 'security forces'. (2)

Of course there is a body of opinion that it is better to have the inquiry done properly than for those involved to make a complete hash of it. But leaving aside the crystal ball and without having to preempt an outcome, just what will be an acceptable outcome for the relatives and for the state itself?

That those involved in actually pulling the trigger to cut down innocent civilians on our streets be found guilty or that those who unleashed and directed such vermin on peaceful demonstrators be held to account?

The legal costs has been something incredible of course and unparallel to what has gone before it but what price can be put upon a life of your father, brother or uncle and the death of a city. Even after the recent report by the Eames/Bradley Consultative Group on the Past, who issued its insulting offer of £12,000 to ‘buy the silence’ of those families of all those killed during the ‘troubles’. John Kelly, whose brother was killed alongside 12 other civilians on Bloody Sunday, clearly stated that ”What they’re doing here - and I suspect this was instigated by the British Government - is making a one off payment to keep people quiet.

“As far as I’m concerned, they can stick their twelve grand up their arse!” and we could agree more. (3)

Following the Widgery Tribunal it is clear cut as to what the outcome would be. The British establishment later went on to honour and even decorate those involved from the highest to the lowest of ranks. Many of whom went on to have highly successful ‘careers’ in the imperialist forces as seen more recently with the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. It has been noted that both countries have since suffered a similar fate, many times over, to that of Bloody Sunday in Derry.

Even though Saville himself has said he and his colleagues are determined to deal fairly, accurately and thoroughly with the issues before them, can we never achieve justice from such highly aggressive occupying force who even after creating countless Bloody Sundays, and even after conceding that there was no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq there wasn’t even an apology made to the suffering Iraqi civilians or to the general public who opposed to this war claiming its true agenda was for regime control and oil. No inquiry there for the countless innocent lives taken and which continues indiscriminately every day.

The former leader of the Official IRA in Derry on Bloody Sunday Johnny White, and founder of the Irish Republican Socialist Party, who was unable to give evidence to the Saville Inquiry for medical reasons, spoke through in an interview stating that Official IRA volunteers had acted in "good faith" when they took action by opening fire on British paratroopers in the Bogside on Bloody Sunday. (4)

He also stated that much of the cross-examination of IRA witnesses, both Official and Provisional, appeared to be "more an interrogation of republicans than an objective exercise in seeking the truth." (5)

From a republican socialist perspective, we, just like the people of Derry, continue to support and stand along side the relatives who have marched each and every year since that terrible day in their quest for justice. We will continue to do so no matter what the outcome of the Saville's final report will be.

So when we mark the anniversay of Bloody Sunday in Derry we have to remember the words of Johnny White when back in 2004, after evidence to the Saville hearings concluded, he rightly explained that none of the shots fired by the Officials on Bloody Sunday could be used as an explanation, much less justification, for any of the shots that killed and wounded unarmed civilians.
E. Cunningham

(1) Derry Journal
(2) Derry Journal
(3) Derry News
(4) Derry Journal
(5) Derry Journal

Stand by the Republic

In November of last year, following several months of discussion held across the country, Irish republicans made what has been described an historical announcement in Derry.

At the first in a series public debates, the first of which was titled "The GFA: Ten Years On", those in attendance witnessed the formal launch of "The Republican Forum for Unity".

Despite the usual torrent of abuse and media sensationalism against it, at what can only be described as a one of the largest gatherings of aligned and non-aligned republicans over the past number of years.

In a founding statement organisers pointed out that: Over the past ten years - since the signing of the Good Friday agreement - Irish Republicans have witnessed a dramatic change in the manner in which the struggle for National Liberation and the establishment of a 32 county Republic has been waged.

To say that not all Republicans agree with, nor comprehend how such changes are leading to the establishment of a 32 county democratic socialist Republic, is to point out the obvious and is evidenced by the large number of groups that now exist with the stated aim of establishing such a Republic.

There are those for whom the local British assembly represents the best route forward while for others the very existence of a local assembly stands as a bulwark against National Sovereignty and as such hinders not helps the struggle for National Liberation.
Still others are so frustrated by the lack of progress or a clear strategic way forward or a unity of purpose that they have given up on the Republican struggle ever arriving at its revolutionary objective.

In short, the Republican vision, as eloquently articulated in the Proclamation of 1916, appears to be distorted by divisions and lack of agreement around core Republican positions.

That being the case a number of Republicans feel that ten years on from the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, the time is appropriate for Republicans to review where the Republican struggle stands and how best we can collectively pursue the sentiments expressed in the Proclamation.

Such a review needs to address not only were we stand in relation to core Republican beliefs but also how we attempt to be pro-active on those beliefs within the Republican tradition. This is vital to ensure that we move our core aims beyond the aspirational and into the attainable.

Towards this end all views should be encouraged and given equal weight using the rule of thumb that at this juncture it is of equal importance to consider where we, individually and collectively, are going to as were we are coming from.

Towards this end a grouping of Republicans comprising members of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, the Irish Republican Socialist Party, the Republican Network for Unity and a number of individual Republicans are formally launching "The Republican Forum for Unity".

Within this Forum all issues of importance to Republicans can be openly discussed with the intention that the ideas generated will be taken back to existing organizations for the purpose of focusing political activity to achieve more definitive results.

In this way Republicans can begin to address the areas of division that have been created due to lack of open, frank and democratic discussion and begin the process of establishing an agreed Republican agenda rather than Republicans merely responding to a series of 'contrived' crises.

The Republican Forum for Unity will undertake a series of public meetings throughout the country to outline our position and secure as much support for it as possible.
It is an open forum and it’s future is in the hands of those who freely participate in its workings.

For our part, as republican socialists, we fully endorse the project. The IRSP has since it’s inception fully supported the idea of a broad front with other political currents in pursuit of common goals and achievements.

It is clear to many Republicans a that the current set up at Stormont is not a steppingstone to a Republic but a cementing of British rule in Ireland.

We urge all republicans to work in harmony with each other to expose the weaknesses of the current constitutional set up. It is not a time for "ourselves alone" philosophy.

"Republicans Must Unite in 2009" New Year Message from the IRSP

In it’s annual new year message, the Ard Comhairle of the Irish Republican Socialist Party points out that the year ahead will be a difficult one for many. However Republican Socialists remain
confident that the only viable alternative worth fighting for is Socialism.

The Irish Republican Socialist Party send greetings to all our members and supporters as we enter 2009 . We send sincere solidarity greetings to all republican Prisoners, at home or abroad. We express our fullest solidarity with the people of the Gaza Strip enduring a barbarous assault by the pro-imperialist Israeli regime. We stand shoulder to shoulder with all those who resist the forces of imperialism and reactionary ideologies.

We are confident that the way forward not only for all the people on the isle of Ireland but also throughout the world is through the struggle for socialism. The current crisis of capitalism is leading to an attack on the living standards of millions of working class people. Unemployment will rise, more will sink into poverty and the dangers of war increase. The only viable alternative is Socialism, which will replace the chaos of the free market with a planned economy that caters for the needs of the majority.

It is clear to many Republicans a that the current set up at Stormont is not a steppingstone to a Republic but a cementing of British rule in Ireland. The IRSP will continue to work with other republicans to expose the hollow fallacies at the heart of the Good Friday Agreement and the St Andrews Agreement. We will not be deflected by the campaign of arrests, harassment denigration and lies carried out by pro-imperialist forces north and south of the border on our membership.

We urge all republicans to work in harmony with each other to expose the weaknesses of the current constitutional set up. It is not a time for "ourselves alone" philosophy.

At the same time we urge all republicans and socialists to step up our activities in both the social and economic fields. Unless and until republican socialists take ownership and leadership of the day today class struggles then our struggle will not succeed.

Finally we salute all our former political prisoners, all our former and current volunteers who have stood loyally by the ideals and principles of republican socialism.
The Struggle Continues!

The Starry Plough Magazine Online

The Starry Plough magazine is the organ of the Irish Republican Socialist Party. The aim of this publication is to assist and develop republican socialist ideas as well as to create debate. This is your magazine. This magazine is put together by a volunteer collective of activists and is paid for only by donations, subscriptions and sales. We have no corporate backing nor do we want any.

Likewise we welcome all articles that will initiate discussion.

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