Archive for the ‘Trade Unions’ category

Audio: 21st Century Republicanism (McKearney, Leeson, Ó Broin & Redmond)

April 16, 2012

L-R: Tommy McKearney, Eoin Ó Broin, Mary Cullen, Brian Leeson & Tom Redmond

On Saturday 14th April 2012, a very interesting meeting took place upstairs in Connolly Books, Dublin. The meeting, entitled ’21st Century Republicanism’, brought together some important thinkers and activists from the Irish republican and socialist left. A standing room only crowd packed in to see former IRA prisoner Tommy McKearney (author of The Provisional IRA: From Insurrection to Parliament), Eoin Ó Broin of Sinn Féin (author of Sinn Féin and the Politics of Left Republicanism), éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson and Tom Redmond of the Communist Party of Ireland. The meeting was chaired by Mary Cullen of the Ireland Institute and editor of The Citizen magazine. Following the contributions of each of the speakers, there was a very interesting Q&A session. I think the Communist Party should be thanked for hosting this much needed discussion, which will hopefully be the merely the first in a series teasing out the issues involved in left republicanism.

For those who were unable to make it along, you can listen to a recording of the talk that I made. Download it by clicking here (right click and ‘save target/link as’ – mp3, 2hrs35mins). The CPI also made a video of it, but I’m not sure when that will be online.

Here’s the poster for the event, which, incidentally, was designed by a certain Citizen of this blog.

This is the first in a short series of meeting being hosted by the Communist Party over the next couple of months. The next, on the topic of ‘Culture & Class’, will take place on Saturday 28 April at 2pm, again upstairs in Connolly Books.


LookLeft issue 8 in the shops now

October 7, 2011

Just a heads up that the new issue of LookLeft (#8) is now in the shops (including every Eason’s nationwide). I’ve got three articles in it – one about the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes and two reviews of Debtocracy and Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights. Go pick up a copy.

Also, keep an eye out for the upcoming new issue of No Quarter (#6, Anti-Fascist Action’s magazine) in which I will have an article on the ultra-right in Israel.

In this issue of LookLeft

Can trade unions lead a fight back? – Paul Dillon examines the strategic choices which face the trade union movement North and South

LookLeft looks at how class defines health outcomes

Nama plays no constructive economic role so why was it created, asks Conor McCabe

Historian Brain Hanley takes a look at the life of socialist-republican George Gilmore

Donal Fallon and Kevin Brannigan take alook at Ultra football culture

ESB – ‘It’s Your energy…for now”

Slaves and Slavery – William Wall looks at the economics underpinning the Magdalene Laundries

Tom Redmond on Left Unity

Reports from Bodenstown and Peter Daly commemorations

Tomas MacGiolla – An enduring legacy

Fighting austerity in the Banana Republic of Italy – Angela Gissi, an Italian living in Ireland, examine the backgroudn to Italy’s recent general strike

An Uncertain Future – the Arab Spring

A toxic Triangle – Gavan Titley examines the media’s role in the growth of Islamophobia.

Saving the Euro and the cowardice of Social Democracy – Influential Greek economist, Yanis Varoufakis,

Interview with the authors of White Riot and history of Punk


Three pages of news from working class communities and the left

Five pages of reviews

The Jemmy Hope Column


Audio recording of book launch of ‘The Provisional IRA – From Insurrection to Parliament’ by Tommy McKearney

August 11, 2011

On Wednesday 10th August 2011, Tommy McKearney launched his book The Provisional IRA – From Insurrection to Parliament in Connolly Books. Over 70 people crowded into (and some had to remain in the street) the small shop to hear veteran trade unionist Mick O’Reilly and éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson talk about the work and its lessons for, and relevance to, the Irish struggle for social and national liberation today. Tommy himself then spoke (very briefly) about the book.

I have not yet read the book (I bought my copy at the launch today), but judging by the great blurbs and superlatives by friends and comrades, it seems like a must-read. You should go and buy it from Connolly Books! Anyway…

To listen to/download the recording in mp3 or ogg format, please go here.


Pauline Conroy (Chair)
Eugene McCartan (General Secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland)
Mick O’Reilly (Vice President of Dublin Council of Trade Unions)
Brian Leeson (Chairperson of éirígí)
Tommy McKearney (author and former Provisional IRA member, blanketman and 1980 hunger striker)

And here is the blurb from the publisher’s (Pluto) website:

This book analyses the underlying reasons behind the formation of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), its development, where this current in Irish republicanism is at present and its prospects for the future.

Tommy McKearney, a former IRA member who was part of the 1980 hunger strike, challenges the misconception that the Provisional IRA was only, or even wholly, about ending partition and uniting Ireland. He argues that while these objectives were always the core and headline demands of the organisation, opposition to the old Northern Ireland state was a major dynamic for the IRA’s armed campaign. As he explores the makeup and strategy of the IRA he is not uncritical, examining alternative options available to the movement at different periods, arguing that its inability to develop a clear socialist programme has limited its effectiveness and reach.

This authoritative and engaging history provides a fascinating insight into the workings and dynamics of a modern resistance movement.

About the Author

Tommy McKearney was a senior member of the Provisional IRA from the early 1970s until his arrest in 1977. Sentenced to life imprisonment, he served 16 years during which time he participated in the 1980 hunger strike in Long Kesh. He is now a freelance journalist and an organiser with the Independent Workers Union.

Tommy McKearney, author

Mick O'Reilly, DCTU

Brian Leeson. éirígí

After the Gaza flotilla, what next for Palestine?

August 4, 2011

After the Gaza flotilla, what next for Palestine?

Liberty, Vol 10 #6, July 2011

The Greek government stopped this year’s Gaza Freedom Flotilla dead in the water, refusing to allow the ships set sail on their humanitarian voyage to the illegally blockaded Palestinian area. Flotilla organisers say Greece took this decision after coming under intense diplomatic and economic pressure from the US and Israel. The Greek ban on departures came after two boats, including the Irish MV Saoirse – on which SIPTU official Mags O’Brien was a passenger – were sabotaged while still in port. Almost identical sabotage was discovered on the Greek-Scandinavian Juliano, docked hundreds of miles away, which Irish Ship To Gaza (ISTG) spokesperson Laurence Davis described as “beyond coincidence”.

Despite this serious setback, flotilla organisers vowed to continue their activities until the siege of Gaza has ended and Palestinians are granted unimpeded access to international waters and airspace, in conformity with international law. ISTG coordinator Fintan Lane told a packed meeting in Liberty Hall that “the Saoirse will sail to Gaza”, and that despite the failure to embark, the Flotilla movement had scored “important public opinion victories”.

Indeed, while Israel may have scored a pyrrhic victory in preventing the flotilla’s departure, the media war was emphatically won by the Palestine solidarity movement. Without even reaching international waters, the flotilla succeeded in highlighting the ongoing siege of Gaza, which – according to Amnesty – despite a very limited easing, has shown “few signs of real improvement on the ground,” while “the foundations of the illegal blockade [remain] intact”.

However, it is not just in Gaza that the situation remains appalling. Evictions of Palestinians, home demolitions, mass arrests, military brutality and continued building of illegal settlements continue apace in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Indeed, the blockade seems to have extended to the West Bank, with hundreds of activists taking part in the Welcome to Palestine ‘flytilla’ prevented from entering Palestine via Tel Aviv airport (to visit the West Bank, one must enter via Israel). Scandalously, many were even prevented from leaving their home airports after airlines bowed to Israeli pressure.

These actions – along with the recent killings of scores of unarmed protesters on Israel’s Syrian, Lebanese and Gazan borders, and increasingly racist and repressive laws being passed by the Knesset – are serving only to show the desperation of the Israeli state as it attempts subdue Palestinian and international civil society resistance to its apartheid policies. While EU and other Western governments – including our own – appear happy to lend both overt and tacit legitimacy to this serial human rights abusing state, ordinary people from every corner of the globe have are showing they will not stand idly by while atrocities and absurdities are committed.

The political elites of the international community will have a chance to support to the creation of a Palestinian state in September, as the UN votes on the PLO “statehood recognition” plan. This plan – anathema to Israel, which is lobbying fiercely against it – aims at achieving UN recognition of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Israel. Yet it remains unclear if this plan will succeed, or indeed, if it will even get to the UN, as the US and Israel work against it.

Regarding statehood, it is important to remember the words of the Palestinian Boycott National Committee (representing over 180 civil society groups), who have stated that “recognition of Palestinian statehood is insufficient, on its own, for ending Israel’s occupation and colonial rule. It will not end Israel’s system of legalised discrimination, which fits the UN definition of apartheid, or allow the millions of Palestinian refugees return home”.

In this regard, SIPTU official Mags O’Brien told Liberty, “just like with South African apartheid, it is vital that Irish people, not least trade unionists, work to build the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement as a way of applying pressure on the Israeli state to end its occupation and comply with international law.”