After decades of political struggle and considerable bloodshed, Sinn Fein is about to play a significant role in the new government of Northern Ireland.
It is worth remembering that Sinn Fein (and its armed wing, the Irish Republican Army) has long campaigned for not just a united Ireland, but a united socialist Ireland.
Once Upon a Time in the West looks at Sinn Fein and its real agenda;
Vowing in the past that he would never work with Sinn Fein, Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley will be first minister of Northern Ireland as of March 26. Former Provisional Irish Republican Army leader Martin McGuiness will be Paisley’s deputy minister. The power-sharing arrangement is a result of the October 2006 St. Andrews Agreement, which all parties intend to implement, even if the March 7 election is scrapped at the last minute.
In the BBC report below Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams indicates that Irish nationalists/republicans are not in the least deviating from their political ideal of a united Ireland, that is, absorbing Northern Ireland into the republic to the south.
“You have created the opportunity to significantly advance our struggle and you have seized the opportunity to further our primary objective of united Ireland through the building of greater political strength,” Adams proclaimed at a January 28 party congress that committed Sinn Fein to supporting the Police Service of Northern Ireland and, by extension, the St. Andrews Agreement.
Although commonly portrayed as a bastion of Irish Catholic nationalism/republicanism, Sinn Fein holds membership in the communist-dominated European United Left–Nordic Green Left, which also includes;
Progressive Party of Working People (Cyprus, ruling)
Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (formerly Czech section of Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, now third largest party in Czech Republic)
Left Alliance (Finland)
French Communist Party (past ruling in coalition with Socialist Party)
Left Party (formerly German Democratic Republic’s ruling Socialist Unity Party)
Synaspismos (Greece, formerly ruling in coalition)
Communist Party of Greece
Communist Refoundation Party (Italy, ruling in coalition)
Party of the Italian Communists (ruling in coalition)
Netherlands Socialist Party
Portuguese Communist Party
Communist Party of Slovakia (formerly Slovak section of Communist Party of Czechoslovakia)
United Left (dominated by Communist Party of Spain)
Left Party (Sweden, ruling in coalition until 2006)
Sinn Fein’s communist orientation is revealed in Adams’ controversial meeting with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in 2001, his refusal to testify before the US Congress in 2002 with respect to the arrest of Sinn Fein/IRA members in the company of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in 2002, and in his meeting with Soviet- and Iranian-backed Hamas militants in 2006.
In 2005 the Irish Progressive Democrat Party politician Michael McDowell characterized Sinn Fein’s secret Marxist agenda as follows:
I would also like to remind this Conference, the media here and public who are joining us that the underlying Provo ideology is an out-dated Marxist ideology. Don’t take my word for it. Leaf through An Phoblacht where the real ideological debate takes place.
All the communist parties of Europe are there with Sinn Fein. Is that coincidence? They are not interested in old-fashioned socialism. They want to create a Marxist workers state.
Sinn Fein is the only party in these islands who have a permanent full-time representative to the Castro regime in Havana. Or at least they did have until he joined a team of intrepid peace activists or ornithologists with bomb making experience, travelling on forged Irish passports in the FARC zone of the Colombian jungle.
FARC, by the way, is the armed wing of the Communist Party of Colombia which survives by exporting drugs to the West. FARC have recently been mortaring churches crowded with villagers. The “barrack-buster” technology wasn’t totally redundant, it seems. In Ireland, however, the Provos pose as the enemy of the drugs trade.
13 thoughts on “For A United SOCIALIST Ireland”
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No anon-I’ve lived in freedom and want to continue doing so.
Have you ever actually lived in Ireland Loudon?
Mah…on what basis do you make the claim that the “Irish Republican Army” is still “committing terrorism through ‘splinter’ fronts such as the CIRA and the Rira?
Oh Mah you surpass yourself, you Holocaust Nazi !
The Irish Republican Army are still committing terrorism through “spliinter” fronts such as the Continuity Irish Republican Army and the Real Irish Republican Army. When the Provisional Irish Republcian Army was openly involved in terrorism it attempted an assasination plot against Margaret Thatcher.
While I don’t like Thatcher for other reasons such as protecting the African National Congress which in a similar style also is involved with the IRA, surrendering Hong Kong to the Communist Chinese mainland government or to suggest that Mikhail Gorbachev was a “man who could do business with”. That’s just like Kofi Annan stating that Saddam Hussein was such a man he could do business with.
But the targeting of a British Prime Minister should really expose the PIRA’s true intentions for the people of Ireland as it has done with Yasser Arafat’s true attentions by using the Palestinians as pawns to destroy the Israelis and hate Jews.
I can see why Ireland has its troubles STF
“a Jew country out of Palestine”.
Oh dear. A Zionist entity, yes, very like Carson’s “Protestant Land for a Protestant People” Orange State. But real Republicans are opposed to divisions based on religion, and opposed the pogroms against Jews in Limerick city in 1913. Anti semitism is anathema to a true Irish revolutionary- read your Ulyssees, you Cyclopean Citizen. Go on Leopold Bloom!
Reminds me of the Irish man who was accused of being anti-semetic-
What, me? Anti smithwicks? Nah, I just prefer a pint of McArdles!
(two fine dark ales to rival your Macs)
Remember Bobby Sands, remember everthing the bloody crown has done to the Irish, remember the mass grave out side of St James Bay Canada, where the mudering crown killed 26,000 Irish, then get back to me about the Beloved IRA.
Wasn’t britain, that made a jew country out of Palastine, then they fuck them too, then you wonder why PLO and IRA are together.
Don’t Fuck With The Irish
Sinn Fein it the reason 32 counties of Ireland are free from the murdering crown of england. IRA are the back bone of the Irish people, they are no different from the founding fathers of USA.
Christians are the biggest buch of hippocrits, are all they have done through out time, killing in the name of Jesus, conquering countries, blaming everything they don’t agrea with, the devils work.
Be a man, and meet me, and lets talk, so I can show you where you are wrong.
Look for me on my space….. shamroq porter
A Real Alternative at the Stormont Election
Eamonn McCann: Foyle
The Socialist Environmental Alliance is not running in the election just to make a point. We are in to win a seat, and we believe it can be done.
It’s assumed the only issue is whether Sinn Fein and the DUP will consolidate their positions. We don’t accept this. We are convinced that there is a seat in Foyle for the SEA and we will campaign in every part of the constituency to deliver it.
We have put the issue of water charges at the top of our agenda. There are many thousands of people across the North in favour of non-payment. But there hasn’t been a single MLA supporting them. That’s a travesty. We need a loud voice in the Assembly speaking up for non-payment. I am the only candidate in Foyle who will do this.
We need the anti-war movement represented in Stormont, speaking for all who are angry at unlimited expenditure on war, while the government pleads poverty when it comes to public services. Individual members of other parties are genuinely against war and the arms industry. But their parties don’t make this a priority. An Assembly without someone raising the anti-war case at every opportunity would be unrepresentative of the people.
We need someone to speak up for trade unionism. This week, we have seen college lecturers and civil servants forced onto the streets to highlight legitimate grievances over jobs, pay and grading. There ought to be elected representatives amplifying their case and urging the public to support them. The SEA will do this.
We need to encourage a public mood of positive support for unionisation of private sector jobs in Derry. None of the four centre parties will take this on. Union activists in Foyle are entitled to have their trade union aspirations expressed by their elected representatives. Again, we will do this.
All parties these days pay lip-service to the environment. The threat to the planet is so stark they have no option. But on transport, for example, they regard concern for the environment as a nuisance. They support evictions at Donnybrewer Road to facilitate growth in aviation, while rarely mentioning the neglect of our railways. In Stormont, I will shift the balance of argument back towards the environment.
We will not be lured into an Orange-Green argument on policing. I have spoken up for young Protestants and Catholics on the receiving end of police bullying, and will continue to do so. We do not believe that proposed changes in policing will make much change in the working class experience of policing. If more Catholics was the answer, the Gardai would be perfect. Tell that to the McBrearty family in Donegal.
At Stormont, I will speak for young people deprived of resources and facilities. Anti-social behaviour cannot be addressed by sending in the police to crack youngsters’ heads, nor through tougher sentences.
The victims of hooligan behaviour have to be protected. But if harsh measures could do it, hooliganism would be long gone. I will encourage a fight in communities for a huge increase in youth spending and facilities, and for including young people in all discussions of policing and anti-social behaviour.
I stand for the defence of the public service, against closures and cut-backs. At Stormont, I will fight against the school-closure programme, which treats our school system as a business which has to balance its books. Falling numbers should be seen as an opportunity to reduce class sizes and provide for children with special needs, not a chance to shut schools and sell off the land.
I will campaign for guarantees for the future of the Fountain Primary School. This case can be made in the context of opposing closures and cut-backs generally. But if a special case has to be made, we will make it. We hope we will not be alone.
I am totally opposed to the neo-liberal agenda of New Labour, which lets the free market rip through every aspect of our lives. I will use the platform of an Assembly seat to amplify the voice of all who are being left behind by the peace process and to encourage grass-roots organisation in every workplace and community.
I believe an Assembly in which these views were not expressed would be unrepresentative.
We need the maximum number of first preferences. Our hope of a seat depends crucially on staying in the race. Voters can choose between the main parties with their later preferences. We need number ones to be in at the shake-up. We believe we can do it. We call on all who agree with us to get actively involved. We are going to give this a real run.
Sean Mitchell: West Belfast
Seán Mitchell has already made history in the Northern Ireland elections by forcing the Northern Ireland Office to accept him as a candidate. Seán, 19, had fallen foul of the fact that the NIO had opted out of a law allowing young people in England, Scotland and Wales to run for office.
Socialist Worker asked Seán how the NIO came to change their mind. ‘After being selected to stand I contacted the electoral office and at first they were not sure of the situation, because their had been the legislation allowing anyone over 18 to stand for election in Scotland, England and Wales.
‘But then when I got back to them, they told me that I’d been disqualified because of my age. Against my objections I was told that they couldn’t do anything about it, because introducing the necessary legislation would take too long for the coming elections.
‘Effectively they were disenfranchising those between 18 and 21 in Northern Ireland, which is ironic given all the talk about Asbos and anti-social behaviour. The Government was denying young people the chance to engage in the political process.
‘I got legal advice and we threatened to take Peter Hain, the Secretary of State to court over the discrimination. After the story was widely published, on radio and in newspapers, the NIO backed down to some extent, contacting us to say that I would be allowed to stand.
‘The press release they sent though did not make it absolutely clear that I would be able to stand in the coming elections. So we pressed ahead with the court case until the NIO requested us to hold back and finally confirmed the necessary legalities had been put in place.’
Now that Seán has won the right to stand, he is going forward as a candidate for the People Before Profit Alliance.
‘The People Before Profit Alliance is the only party in this election that is taking a principled stand against water charges. We are the only party to advocate non-payment; the rest, whatever their views on water charges, are undermining the campaign against them by arguing with people to pay the charge.
‘We are standing in the election in order to encourage people not to pay, the charges are completely unfair and they can be beaten by a non-payment campaign. Not only that, but we see the water charges as part of a wider agenda by Peter Hain to introduce a neo-liberal agenda to Northern Ireland.
‘Recently I was at a protest at the Royal Victoria Hospital against a Private Finance Initiative for health care there. PFIs are basically privatisation plans and they will be as disastrous for public services in Northern Ireland as they have been elsewhere.
‘I will be using the election as a platform to fight all such privatisations.’
Seán Mitchell is a member of the Student’s Council at Queens University; he was involved in organising for 150 people to go across to the Make Poverty History demonstration at Gleneagles in 2005 and he is a member of the steering committee of the Belfast Anti-War Movement.
The war in Iraq is another reason why Seán is standing.
‘We are the only organisation that will make the war an election issue. The war in Iraq is deeply unpopular and the People Before Profit campaign gives people the chance to express their opposition to it in coming election. Hopefully the election will serve also to build the anti-war movement.
Socialist Worker asked Seán about his opposition to sectarian politics.
‘On Friday I was at a protest in the Village, just across from West Belfast. It was organised to lobby for the regeneration of the area: for proper liveable housing. There were around 150 people present in what is an overwhelmingly Protestant area.
‘We are fighting the same kind of policies in the Village as are affecting the people in West Belfast. One day I was at this very militant protest in the Village, two days later another at the Falls. One staunchly Protestant, the other Catholic.
‘But both are connected by their opposition to neo-liberal policies. People Before Profit want to be the voice that connects the entire community and represents the new movements of resistance to privatisation.’
Seán’s campaign is off to a vibrant start and is gathering support from people disaffected with the conservatism of the other political parties. Together with Eamonn McCann he is reintroducing to Northern Ireland the kind of radical working class politics that has not been visible in strength for decades
Thanks STF. Its the classic Trots vs Comms scenario.
Do you work with the Soc Dems within the system?
Or do you try to build an alternative.
I think the Comms (Sinn Fein) have followed the smarter strategy.
Hope they fail though.
A DANGEROUS AND DIVISE STRATEGY
No to joining the PSNI and MI5
Yes to non-payment of water charges & fighting the Hain agenda
The leadership of Sinn Fein are steering into very dangerous territory and ordinary republicans and others who want a different world from the one given to us by Bush, Blair, Hain and the corrupt PSNI are going to pay the price.
The sting in the tail of the “politics must be made to work” strategy is that Sinn Fein has to join the PSNI. The same PSNI that has now been revealed from top to bottom as corrupt, to have been running UVF killer gangs lead by Mark Haddock, who aided and abetted murders, theft, violent attacks, and intimidation of ordinary Catholics and Protestants. No amount of cosmetic covering will hide the fact that many of the same people alluded to in the Ombudsman’s report are still employed in the PSNI. They helped murderers avoid detection and imprisonment, gave over names of innocent people to murderers to protect informers. These events continued after the introduction of Patten’s recommendations. That is the organisation to which Sinn Fein is advocating republicans should now join.
The leadership of Sinn Fein argue for detractors to “show us a realistic alternative” and that there is “no support for, no capacity and no will to carry out an armed struggle.” But these are not the only options – Power Sharing or the Armed Struggle – joining the PSNI or being consigned to irrelevance. There is another strategy, one that involves people power and organising from below to fight the current neo-liberal attacks that are being implemented across Ireland, North and South. It is a similar strategy being waged in South Africa today by many who fight against the ANC’s privatisation drive. It means fighting poverty to solve problems of anti-social behaviour, campaigning for real jobs with decent wages and conditions, fighting against the Hain Agenda to reduce the alienation fuelling tensions that cause people to resort to crime or anti-social behaviour.
It means working people struggling together regardless of community to stop the combined processes of the War on Terror – the reason they need MI5 here, or the privatisation of public services. Refusing to pay water charges and stopping their introduction would do more to take on the British Government, do more to build the confidence of people to resist neo-liberal attacks and do more to stop the plans of Tony Blair, Peter Hain and co than the present Sinn Fein strategy.
Reform of the PSNI – the case for signing up?
The Sinn Fein leadership insist that through negotiations they have delivered a package that most republicans can live with. In terms of British control over policing, there will be devolved policing and there will be devolution of policing powers by 2008. They also say that through a Justice department the PSNI will be accountable to the Assembly; therefore it will be accountable to the local community. There is also the issue of plastic bullets which Hugh Orde has suggested will be phased out for use in public order situations. Every step of this package seems full of holes and that is putting aside the possibility that all this falls flat because the DUP don’t agree to it.
The idea that a devolved “Police Service” will operate outside the realms of the British State seems far-fetched to say the least. All the structures of the Belfast Agreement, and now the St Andrews Agreement ensure British government involvement for the foreseeable future whether through the direct provision of finances, the implementation of a raft of policies outside the realms of Assembly control, let alone the overseeing of the PSNI by the secretary of state, the Home Office and MI5.
The Assembly may aim to make the PSNI accountable but by and large the PSNI will still be beyond serious accountability. Look who will preside over the process of scrutinising: for the PSNI, Ronnie Flannagan, or someone like him given is now a dead man walking after the Ombudsman’s report and for MI5 the arch opponent of civil liberties, Lord Carlisle, who supports both Diplock Courts and 90-day detention. He apparently shall scrutinise the role of MI5 and hold it to account. It has been suggested before that “ruling by fooling is a great British art,” but surely few can be fooled by Blair.
Even the use of plastic bullets was a cagey concession. Hugh Orde suggested that they wouldn’t be used for crowd control, just in cases where violence was being used by individuals. Not the most robust of commitments. There is nothing in the leadership’s case after the negotiations which suggest the PSNI is anything but a corrupt unaccountable institution, and nothing which suggests it will be any different after they join.
There is no such thing as a Police Service
Gerry Kelly said in Toomebridge that the PSNI needed Republicans to join so that it could be “hollowed out from within”. He suggested that while 50/50 recruitment was a step forward, the PSNI needed Republicans, not just people from the Nationalist community. It was through Republican involvement that the PSNI would, he argued, be turned into a police service. Even if we ignore the history of political policing in Northern Ireland, this position assumes that the police are neutral, and can simply be turned into a community service rather than a police force.
The ANC example?
The Police Force under the ANC government is a case in point. Even in the most recent period where white and black officers serve side by side, the South African Police has been used to break strikes, to break up anti-privatisation rallies and generally behave in the way any state police force behaves i.e. they confront the poor and support the wealthy. According to Amnesty International, there are ‘at least twenty to thirty severe cases of torture a year in police custody South Africa’.
The fact that black officers, supported by an ANC government, beat people off the roads in townships hardly justifies support for the police in South Africa in the same way that having Catholic (even Republican) PSNI officers, supported by Sinn Fein ministers in a devolved Assembly, clearing post office workers off pickets on the Falls Road should not be welcomed here.
No amount of tours by serving black police officers or speeches by Ronnie Kasrils, the Minister for Intelligence in the ANC government can hide the facts; the South African model is no model at all.
MI5 and PSNI – a separation of convenience
Tony Blair’s latest pronouncement that MI5 would be separated off from the PSNI seemed to delight the Republican leadership. It shouldn’t have. Blair has already said that MI5 needs to have “flexibility” in order to deal with the War on Terror. What MI5 will do is spy on people involved in political activity which doesn’t sit neatly alongside the Bush and Blair agenda.
It will investigate the activities of those considered to be terrorists, particularly anti-agreement republicans and many other groups that oppose government policies. Given its history it will probably be looking into the campaign against water charges, anti-war campaigns, and anything and anyone which looks into the government’s immigration policy.
MI5 has a sordid history of ignoring human rights, organising the jailing of political activists on trumped up charges, participating in Guantanamo Bay, collusion, the list is endless.
Gerry Kelly said “Sinn Fein’s objective has been to firewall local policing from the malign and corruptive influence of MI5.” MI5 should not be allowed anywhere near the place regardless of the so called separation between it and the PSNI.
Do we need policing?
There is however a much bigger problem with the whole framework of the debate. Regardless of the anomalies of the Northern Irish situation, the police exist to protect the wealth and property of the rich. The whole basis of policing is to maintain the “smooth” workings of capitalist society by force if necessary and therefore the police ensure that strikes are brought an end, that “general lawlessness” of mainly working class people is dealt with, that racist immigration laws are adhered to and that a general level of intimidation caused simply by a police presence is maintained. Under capitalism the police can only function in this way, so there can be no suggestion that a reformed police service will suddenly operate in a different way than that which it is compelled to do.
This is why people who are employed in the Police take on the worst ideas of capitalist society. There have been many investigations which show that officers within the police exhibit high levels of racism, sectarianism, sexism and homophobia, of underlying antagonisms to people who go on strike and of high levels of support for reactionary polices of the governments they serve.
Even the idea that the Police can be monitored by government to behave in a particular way seems dubious. It is often the case that police “cultures” are promoted and nurtured by the institution itself. A unwritten policy of separation i.e. police generally mix with other police officers, socialise with other police, have better pay and conditions than most workers and promote a “canteen culture” which ensures promotion of support for fellow officers regardless of there behaviour means that attempts to discipline the police meet stiff resistance from within the force .
It is simply not credible to argue that somehow the Northern Irish Police Force, the PSNI, will be a gentler cuddlier operation than any other police force around the globe. It may lose some of its sectarian colouring but this represents a shift in tone only. The attack on Protestant teenagers in Derry last year shows exactly what we will experience at the hands of the PSNI in the future. The problem with the debate is that this view is never brought up. The Sinn Fein leadership assume that no-one disputes the idea that we need “policing”
While there is has been a fair amount of hysteria in the local papers about crime waves and the rise of anti-social behaviour, there is very little evidence that we are living in a crime wave.
The latest crime figures do not show a massive year on year rise in violent or petty crime. Crime in general is up marginally, and some violent crimes are up marginally also, but petty crime by and large is down. Theft, burglary, joyriding, and grievous bodily harm are all down. There is a very important point here. Instead of criminalizing the youth of our communities we should be working to make their lives better. All the crimes that are associated with young people are on the way down. ASBO’s and more police do not aid in solving the very real problems of youth alienation, most importantly the lack of facilities or for many access to jobs. The police have an extremely low success rate in terms of dealing with community crimes – between 10 and 20 per cent on average.
There are better ways to deal with crime. Instead of closing schools, leisure centres and youth facilities which the Blair government intends to do these could be expanded. Instead of high youth unemployment we could insist that the government look at schemes to employ young people, developing skills in areas where high levels of social deprivation require housing and other facilities to be built and maintained. There are any number of answers to solve the problems of alienation and hopelessness in communities rather than looking to the Police to solve the problem, something they are ill-equipped to do.
We need to keep our eyes on every move the Police make, they need to be scrutinized at every level, but that cannot be done from inside the force. Look at the ANC, their hands are now covered in blood. Surely we don’t want to repeat that here.
What is a realistic alternative?
It is clear that the route Sinn Fein are taking, including all the arguments the leadership make, is identical to that of organisations like the ANC or the PLO. As mentioned earlier, in South Africa today the ANC are driving through the most brutal privatisation programme and have been faced with huge strikes, massive demonstrations and struggle against their policies. They have used their police force, the very police force Sinn Fein suggests the PSNI should be modelled on to clear pickets, beat and arrest demonstrators and provide protection for private companies.
The once solid support for the organisation has now splintered. Surely with the path the Sinn Fein leadership is taking we could end up with a similar situation here.
The present strategy of incremental change, of negotiation and power sharing has not stopped the British government from driving forward on the twin tracks of the War on Terror or the privatisation of the entire Northern Irish economy. We need a commitment to a different strategy.
In the immediate future we need a mass non-payment campaign to stop Peter Hain’s privatisation of the water service. By its very nature that means everyone regardless of community has to be part of it. That means winning the argument that communities, Trade Unionists and other activists need to work together.
Instead of encouraging young republicans to join the police force, young republicans should be joining a campaign which could overturn the policies of privatisation of the British and the Irish governments. This campaign if successful would create the potential to reduce crime, anti-social behaviour and lay the basis for discussion on how best to reform the society in which we live.
A real socialist strategy looks to completely restructuring society to meet people’s needs not inch by inch negotiations which leave the repressive structures untouched and paralyse us in the face of the Bush, Blair and Hain agenda.