Dead Men Gave Birth

Tonight the Pensive Quill features guest writer Sean Doyle, Regional Socialist Republican Unity Committee.

When all the choreography and timely press releases with due emphasis on participants had been adhered to and the illusion of British power sharing under devolution had been confirmed by the junior partner as is always usual in these flawed circumstances. 

Convincing your support base and yourself that you have not been upstaged when your pride is at stake it is unbelievable what energy you waste convincing your members that you are right knowing in your heart that it is not what you envisaged. At least for those Socialist Republicans within the ranks their dream has unfolded as a nightmare. In principle and in deed the recognition of our colonial masters right of sovereignty over the 6 counties and the 26 county referendums nullifying Articles 2 and 3 of our constitution. Copper fastened partition that only the unionist consent can change. We Socialist Republicans have no rights or say as Roger Casement speaking from the dock in his defence to a charge of treason in London in 1916 “Where all your rights only become an accumulated wrong”. To challenge the political right wing process developed by the British government and 26 county nationalists mindful of the U.S. support.   

The Sinn Fein nationalist core seized the opportunity to create a new wealthy Catholic middle class. Just as happened in the 26 counties in 1922 class interests were greater than national differences. Dissent or criticism of this political process is to stand accused of undermining the peace process. This argument is proffered to deflect us from the shocking ramifications and recognition pertained in The Good Friday Agreement. The Good Friday Agreement obliges the MLA’s to support the institutions of the state designed and controlled by Westminster legislation, the judicial process and policing. No power to raise taxes to develop a more just and equitable society. But instructed to enforce austerity measures to protect the markets. Ministers to administer the wishes of Westminster that’s our reward for our omission of our constitutional right to the 6 counties!

I am not prepared to accept this political process when there was a major opportunity presented without conflicting with the peace process. To engage in revolutionary political activities that had been left neglected due to the demands of maintaining a military campaign that has been the explanation preferred to me for decades. James Connolly said: “We believe in constitutional actions in normal times but we believe in revolutionary actions in exceptional times”. Had the leadership being intent and prepared the members through educational class politics in advance of parking the military campaign and initiated Socialist Revolutionary leadership in the communities and on the streets instead their weakness was their obsession to control and the personal opportunities for an elite coupled with a deluded notion of a United Ireland by 2016. History is written by the victors so perhaps this opportunity will not be included. Maybe the authors of “lost revolution” will pen part two.

As for the Orange State and all it entailed gerrymandering, lack of housing, unemployment, second class citizens and the sad catalogue of sectarian bigotry designed fostered and supported by successive British governments had been exposed to the world due to the sacrifices of the lives of our so young freedom fighters and by television crews beaming in to homes all over the world the Orange State was over. The Good Friday Agreement was the new order which Tommy Mc Kearney describes as “exchanging an Orange State for a Sectarian State” in his book The Provisional IRA from Insurrection to Parliament.:

Decisions must have a minimum of 40% support of representatives who have registered as Unionists or 60% Nationalists or vice versa. Representatives of parties who decline to register as either may vote but their votes do not count when it comes to deciding if cross community consent has been obtained. A system that was devised in order to overcome the old and divisive Orange State has done so at the cost of embedding communal sectarianism.

No room there for other groupings just more polarisation. Socialist Republicans must unite on issues, equality, the rights of man and liberty the 3 basic beliefs and build relations with each other in their communities. My definition of a revolution is an activist for change not reforms with or without a gun, a political soldier. James Connolly put it very simply but it obviously fell on deaf ears “We mean to be free and in every enemy of tyranny we recognise a brother, wherever be his birthplace, in every enemy of freedom we also recognise our enemy though he were as Irish as our hills”.

I recall the heated debates going back to the mid to late 1960’s throughout the movement at all levels. In Wicklow we were fortunate to have an educational officer of the persuasion that the education of your members was the vital stimulation. To open minds and build confidence through debate and homing skills to articulate and sustain each member through the challenges that will confront us on our journey. To the late May Hayes I will remain eternally grateful. In our history which has been well documented involvement in class politics was perceived by some within the Republican movement as reformist and reviled. Seamus Costello and some comrades after Operation Harvest fought and debated and were relentless in their belief that the national question and the class struggle were ONE. You cannot liberate a country you must liberate the people. Without people you have no liberation. I recall his words about Operation Harvest. He said “It failed not because of lack of popular support but because of lack of popular involvement. Slaps on the back and platitudes don’t win wars”. And of course there were also other factors.

But the undeniable fact that confronts us today if we don’t build a broad front of Socialist Republicans and initiate a class struggle the right wing nationalists will prey on us and our grandchildren for decades to come. The power is in our OWN hands. Our young dead martyrs through their ultimate sacrifices earned the respect and recognition of their communities who were suffering marginalisation bedevilled by sectarianism and bigotry seized the opportunity to vote for our hunger strikers that convinced Sinn Fein of electoral potential. And it would appear electoral success consumed the party, the short term quick fix to power predominated over sworn principles. James Connolly wrote:

The failure of our so called leaders to grasp the grave significance of the two fold character of the Irish question is the real explanation of that paralysis which at constantly recurring periods falls like a blight upon Irish politics. The party that would aspire to lead the Irish people from bondage to freedom must then recognise both aspects of the long continued struggle of the Irish nation.

In conclusion our young dead martyrs smashed the Orange State and “gave birth” to the largest Nationalist party in the 6 counties. Knowing some of them personally I know the latter is not what they envisaged.


  1. Sean once again another brilliant post a cara,although where you state that our" so called leaders failed to grasp the significance of the two fold character of the Irish question" I,d be more inclined to say that they used the national question and the loyality of so many as a leverage to aquire a privileged position for themselves and a few cronies,I,ve often heard it said "if its not in you it wont come out" I can say that from this that had our so called leaders and their hangers on been true socialist republicans,then they would never have entertained the surrender that is the gfa, nor indeed would they have been so willing to implement right wing tory policies here in the north eastern counties, what Connolly ,Mc Diarmada and all the other hero,s who gave their all for the cause of Irish freedom would make of this crop of carpet baggers or indeed what they would have done to them often makes me wonder.Anyway Sean keep your posts coming I for one like the cut of your cloth mo cara.

  2. If Northern I is such a terrible place, how come it has an unemploymet rate half that of Wicklow/ROI ? Housing in NI is cheaper, the health and eduacatiuon services are better resourced, 50,000 people a yr don't emigrate, poverty levels are half that of the US.People are even emigrating from south to north.If socialism worked, we would all be living in Cuba! Time to swap Andy Carroll for Mick Owen.

  3. Sean,
    I agree with Marty that you always produce a brilliant post.
    Just one issue and quite a significant one, it was not just men who fought this war.
    I know there are contributors to this blog who write solely in male terms, 'lads' this and 'lads' that.
    But you always expect something very different from someone like you.

  4. Sean,

    all your posts here are welcome and I am pleased that Nuala and Marty appreciate them also. You focus on the radical social dimension of republicanism.

  5. Nuala hope Albert is back on the job and once again enjoying out of date stuff.. its not for me to speak on Seans behalf,he does that quite eloquently on his own, but I,d be sure when Sean refers to socialists and republicans he doesnt differentiate between the sexes,anyway who,d dare overlook our women like yourself, SMH ,and the Armagh crew,who have proven beyond doubt the women are up of their knees and arent going back down.

  6. SLICK
    do all the wee protestants heading to England for work not count as emigration?

    Good post. States quite clearly a hanful of shameless whores continue to urinate on dead martyrs.

    mi6 marty wasn't killing people directly or indirectly. But he's proud he joined the IRA at 18 and never ran away from anything.

    What the fuck did he join as a cheerleader, no sexism intended nuala. I'm sure mi6 marty makes a lovely cuppa.

  7. Marty,
    I am sure and certain that Sean would never intentionally leave women out. But I have heard people well intentioned people do it and althought there is a difference between them and the condesending type it is still annoying.
    There are people who do not think women should have a voice or certain women should have a voice whilst at the same time banging on about social justice and equality.

    I'm sure he made good with more than just the tea.

  8. fionnuala
    he's the kinda guy cud take the sugar out of yer tae+convince you he was doing you a good turn i rekon.

  9. Sean mo chara,

    Worthy article. I had to read it several and digest it before I felt able to comment.

    The question is, where do we go from here?

    As a socialist and a republican I feel that we have hit a brick wall. As your article implies, this seems to happen every generation.

    I am reading 'Voices from the Grave' at the moment and can understand why Brendan Hughes became depresed towards the end of his life. He felt, rightly, I think that the 'peace process' meant that his struggle had been futile and yet another generation would end up fighting and suffering as his had. I believe this too.

    Everytime the Irish working class get up a head of steam they are sold out. The home rulers did it, trading the people's desire for real freedom for Catholic control of education.

    The Free Staters sold out in 1921 and then crushed Noel Brown's tentative moves towards socialism in 1946 and flung Ireland back to the dark ages for 20 years.

    In the early seventies when the six counties were in turmoil, we failed to give the push that might have brought the house of cards down, then in the 90's we surrendered our claim on the whole of Ireland forever.

    I can't help being a socialist, sometimes I wish I could turn it off and tune in to X-Factor.

    It hurts that in Ireland it seems to take some insane sacrifice or suffering to motovate the masses, and then when a movement is built up we hand it over to the first bourgoius who can come up with some plausable pipe dream like a 'peace dividend' (that's a term you don't hear too often anymore).

    So where do we go from here? I suppose we keep going, agitating, educating, organising. Hopefully we learn something, for it is said to keep making the same mistakes over and over is madness.

    This is a valuable blog, and I value your contributions.