The Enduring Ta Power And Republicanism Today

Sean Bresnahan urges republican strategy to revisit the thinking of the late republican socialist Ta Power. Sean Bresnahan is a member of the Thomas Ashe Society.

Many among us, influenced by the rut contemporary republicanism finds itself in, well over a decade from the 1998 Agreement, have reached the conclusion republicanism has been relegated to the fringes of society.

But this is not necessarily so. It is more arguable that many Irish republicans simply do not understand the changed dynamics in society today, and thus fail to process how republicanism is in fact growing in Ireland – just not according to the model traditionally understood by ourselves. It is then ourselves as republicans who need realise much of our analysis is on the fringes of society and not Irish republicanism of itself.

Can we accept this and work to right the wrong or will we persist with failed tactics and strategies of old? Only time will tell but internal debate and discussion, among both ourselves in the 1916 Societies and other emerging strands of what can be termed ‘alternative republicanism’, offers a way forward. Debate of itself can open channels whereby an appropriate analysis, for the times that are in it, can emerge on the strength of those discussions. A vibrant republican analysis, in line with the needs of modern Irish society and conscious of our own limitations, is in the interests of all concerned.

As good a point as any to begin might be in a recognition that if existing state structures are able to resolve the needs of those over whom they claim authority it narrows the space where effective struggle can be prosecuted, by those intent on political change – not only in Ireland but across the world. Thus why the 1998 Agreement, despite the many crises which dog the political process internal to the Six Counties, has proved such an effective bulwark for British policy in Ireland. It has succeeded toward that end, however distasteful that may be to ourselves. No matter, with the crippling effect of the global debt crisis beginning to impact on abilities to sate the needs and demands of ordinary people, new avenues of struggle are opening all the time.

For us as republicans, we must take stock of newfound realities and decide are the outdated analyses of old to dominate our strategic mindset, deriving as they do from a bygone era, incapable as they are of harnessing the socio-political forces unleashed by the renewed and systemic crisis in the financial system. Or are we willing instead to dig deeper, to venture into the chasms wrought by the destructive impact of transnational capital and its relationship to modern Ireland – North and South.

Irish republicanism is found in the revolutionary struggle for the people and their freedom, its primary goal being to enhance the welfare of ordinary men and women through overcoming injustice, oppression and inequality. For Irish republicans then, the freedom struggle is not only for the country but for its people. Republicanism is not just about the establishment of an independent Ireland but about the rights of those living there to a standard of living compatible with the ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity, born into the Irish political experience more than 200 years ago in the times of Tone, McCracken, McCabe and Russell.

Partition however is a state-imposed barrier to the development of such a progressive political disposition – a means to divide the people and not just the territory. The purpose is to prevent them making common cause in pursuit of their common interest, ensuring a sectarian dynamic disrupts all politics in the North, with the South in turn afraid of ‘contagion’. The outworking of this arrangement frustrates the emergence of left-right politics and in turn allows the ruling business class to dominate unchallenged the political and socio-economic agenda at all levels of society.

But it is also the case that the inability of republicans to develop a serious and credible analysis of power, and how it relates to establishment politics and the reigning economic consensus, in turn is an obstacle of itself to the ending of partition. The squaring of this circle, whereby partition disbars a left realignment in politics and the absence of the latter in kind upholds partition, requires no mean feat but is of necessity if efforts to replace the status quo with a truly democratic arrangement in Ireland are to be anything other than words on a page or rhetoric passed about among our own.

The logical first step then, for those intent on improving the macro-condition of society today, would appear to be the securing of an end to partition-rule in our country. For republicans, a British withdrawal from Ireland is the foundation upon which our wider social and economic programme can be built. We should not though retreat into what can rightly be termed a strictly ‘nationalist’ position in order to achieve that end, ignoring the need for a more comprehensive analysis of the economy and society overall, as though an end to partition will of its own accord resolve the myriad problems we face as a society, as though this one act of itself can realise the end goal of the Irish republican struggle, as though all else should wait until as much has been achieved.

And not only for those reasons should we avoid this ‘retreat to nationalism’, traditionally impacting on republican political strategies, but also because in doing as much, in allowing such a retreat of itself, we are in turn less likely to accrue the required level of support – tacit or otherwise – to end the partition of Ireland (the logical follow-on again being that any left socio-economic package we might hope in time to engender remains in limbo). Thus, for ourselves in the 1916 Societies, ‘One Ireland One Vote’, the core focus of our existing political energies, of itself is not enough. This is where we need more, where a wider analysis, tying into a grassroots strategy based on sound principle and outside the corrupting state, must come in behind to compliment existing initiatives.

So while yes, to secure the type of political and economic gains imagined by republicans it is of the greatest import to first restore Irish sovereignty – to build from there a society and economy that advances the interests of its people over and above those of profit and its agents – there must be a recognition that to develop the political strength required to achieve such an end we must immerse ourselves, and the broader republican movement, in the daily struggles of ordinary people, and the communities in which they reside, to make ends meet within society as it presently exists. For it is the people alone on whom we can depend when the state, as is its nature when faced with existential threat, moves to ally with and co-opt whatever sectional interest it requires to retain its monopoly on power. As a movement then we must be of the Irish people, a vehicle to further their end, itself found ultimately in the democratic republic.

The revolutionary socialist and republican Ta Power, in an echo of Connolly’s classic dictum that ‘the cause of Ireland is the cause of labour’, rightly asserted that the liberation struggle was both national and social in character, with both deserving of equal merit in the strategic thinking of the movement for change in Ireland, with both to be given equal consideration in the organisation of a national resistance to the continued domination of our country, by transnational capital and the imperialist forces it serves. His timeless assertion that ‘the national struggle and the class struggle must go forward together’ should be the mainstay of contemporary efforts to reorganise the republican base, at a time when both have been annihilated by the partitionist establishment in the wake of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Republicans today must determine how the Power analysis can best be set out, in the context of our own wider understanding of contemporary society and the forces at work within it – key among them the existing state as the lynchpin of reactionary imperialism. This requires an admission that the establishment cannot be reformed – that you cannot reform the status quo out of existence – but that a new democratic all-Ireland republic must be founded in its stead, on the bones of partition itself. The entire partition-system has to go if we are serious about achieving our aims and all efforts must be directed towards that end.

Determining the extent to which we should participate, if at all, within its constraints, tactically or otherwise, relates to the broader effort to set in place an effective strategy through which republicanism can move forward, without walling ourselves off from wider society, and the centres of debate and influence it offers, but likewise without being crushed by the contradictions involvement within the state apparatus, no matter the intention, brings with it. Indeed the extent to which real power lies with the administration of state or civil government – as opposed to the deep state and indeed subtle intra-state processes conducted through global capital – where true power more arguably is concentrated – is something to be considered in terms of strategy and indeed in its own right overall.

Recent events in Greece are a clear demonstration that power no longer resides with elected governments, if indeed that were ever the case to begin with. The notion we can seize power and effect systemic change through civil government, by attaining elected position within it, has been cruelly exposed by the collapse of the Syriza strategy when confronted by the power matrix. Asides from the fact state power lies for the most part beyond the political administration (but with more hidden processes not subject to the whims of any electorate), in the modern international system the relationship of the state itself to wider global processes dictates that true power lies elsewhere again, the modern nation-state being no more than a vehicle to serve its agenda, which is transnational and without physical borders. The only force capable of withstanding these processes is the risen people themselves and so our efforts at this point must be to release the raw power dormant within their rank.

The idea we can harness the institutions of government to effect far-reaching change then is utterly flawed and thus why the Syriza administration, despite the pronouncements of the Greek people in the ‘Oxi’ referendum, folded to the threats of the powers-that-be in resumed negotiations. The lesson is clear. Attaining position within government of itself is incapable of withstanding the pressures wrought on those intent on change, at least beyond that directed and dictated by the already powerful and their neoliberal agenda. Tsipras and his team based their analysis solely on securing power within the state, when what they needed to do was channel the power of the people themselves, into and through a democratic movement on the ground capable of resisting where the state, or more accurately the civil government, could no longer. As Irish republicans, who hope to avoid similar pitfalls if opportunities as those in Greece should ever arise here, developing a full understanding of the processes at work in modern society, how and where, at what point they can best be resisted, must form part of our strategic thinking as we go forward.

Beyond all of that, the question for republicans at this time is how best to apply the Power analysis, striking an appropriate balance between its key components to best advance the overall struggle, within a broader interpretation of societal need in contemporary Ireland, accounting for the times that are in it – the here and now – in this the 21st century. How can we best marry the national struggle to that which seeks a broader emancipation of the people of themselves? A way must be found and this is the task that presently confronts us. The republican effort to transform society demands a revolutionary strategy, itself embedded in the people and in which the people participate directly.

‘Think national – act local’ is an oft-used phrase in the republican lexicon, in which can be found a workable way to move forward, building a republican analysis capable of meeting the needs of today, in their various form, much of this relating to a wider process outside Ireland itself, of which we are only a part. By grounding the national concern within a broader ‘class’ analysis – and vice versa – we can achieve that end. Working-class politics grow support for our national project and the republic. Achieving the republic opens the space in kind to build on localised community-based projects, and the solidarity they engender among working people, to achieve macro-improvements in the socio-economic fabric of Irish society overall. In turn this can serve as an example to other peoples in struggle, in time helping foster that ‘fraternity of nations’ first-envisaged by Connolly a century ago.

This is arguably where the Power analysis, as that of Connolly before him, best relates to the political situation we are faced with today. We need to instil a ‘popular consciousness’ among the Irish people themselves, at root level, that the path to a better future lies in establishing the democratic republic; that the path to the democratic republic lies in solidarity among and between ourselves, working together on the common issues that are the site of struggle in our individual lives, both here at home and in societies as our own all across this world.

Ultimately, British rule in Ireland is a barrier to democracy and freedom. As such it must be challenged and defeated but equally we must find appropriate means to do so, relevant to Ireland in the 21st century, its position within the emerging global system and how we hope to relate to it going forward. A democratic republic, in line with the legitimate aspirations of the Irish people, where the people come first and the people determine their own affairs to the greatest extent possible, can only be realised through empowering the citizens who make up its number. Not at a mythical point in the future, following a second declaration of independence, but now and as part of efforts themselves to achieve that declaration of itself.

To achieve as much is the task before us and in this sense then, the national effort to realise an end to partition, as Power suggested, relates to a wider imperative, whose goal is to render a meaningful socio-economic improvement in the material condition of Irish society, and indeed the world beyond these shores. The two are inextricably linked. The national struggle and the class struggle are one and the same, they are in fact inseparable and no effort should be made to separate them. Instead we must work to find the logical point where class and the nation meet, moving forward from there on a sound ideological footing, building a progressive republican strategy capable of achieving our interim and ultimate goals as part of the one endeavour.


  1. Very nice article but it's guilty of the same rhetoric it lambastes its own community for falling back on.

    The fact is, whether you like it or not partition is a reality-something the Shinners seem quite happy with at present too by the way.

    More and more I see the Stickies had a much more sensible and ideologically sound argument, get rid of the petty sectarian squabbles and unite the working class.

    Convince the prods.

    Then you will truly have a unified Ireland.

  2. A cracking read Sean. Well written and argued. I am 100% sure, though, that you will fail. You propose a revolution on a rural and socially conservative island. You will never convince any meaningful number of citizens that that is a risk worth taking. You allude to the fact that Syriza folded in the face of globalised power yet argue that Ireland should stand alone, that we should risk our jobs, schools, hospitals etc to strive for something better. How will it be better than what we have now? As Arendt said, "The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution", so if we get rid of Peter Robinson and Enda Kenny who will replace them? What guarantees will we have that they will be fairer and not corrupted by power? What guarantees will we have that they will run departments better than now? Where will the "new capital" come from for the ministers to spend on the people?

    On the question of partition, as I have said to you before, modern republicanism is a busted flush. Republicanism cannot unite this island. All of unionism and a considerable amount in the republic do not trust republicanism. We view it as sectarian, violent and criminal and as a major cause of disunity. Republicanism cannot end partition, in fact it is a bar to ending partition. Citing Ta Power shows an innate need in republicanism to look backwards, to rehash old ideas, to wheel out old "martyrs". Do you seriosly believe that these tactics will convince people to join a revolution?

    The left lost the global clash of ideas and republicanism lost the struggle in Ireland. That you want to refight and win these battles is personally admirable but ultimately futile.

  3. Peter a chara, rather than a call for a revolution the suggestion here is that republicans should recognise revolutionary politics, at a macro level at least, are basically not on the agenda of most in our society at present. As such, we should factor this into our political thinking and strategy. Anthony has alluded to this on previous occasion, that republicans need to search out the areas where we can make an impact - as basically at that broad national level, given the inherent power attaching to the Good Friday Agreement, it is difficult at this time to effect anything resembling political change. We might wish it were otherwise but we need to deal in reality rather than delusion - otherwise we do little more than insist on our own isolation from the community. Our analysis should account for the same. I think Power was ahead of his time because he recognised that a United Ireland of itself would not resolve all the issues troubling Irish society. He also suggested that many of the issues in question could themselves be addressed, yes in tandem with efforts to secure a United Ireland but not necessarily to achieve that specific end - even if as much helped to empower that end in due course. An example of the type of thing I'm looking to touch on are the ongoing TTIP negotiations, which will have a huge bearing on both Ireland north and south. Yet few are in any way prepared for the necessary debate and discussion on that critical issue - including republicans as much as the rest. Here is an issue where we can work with a wide and divergent group of individuals, groups or whatever to improve and/or protect the condition of the ordinary people. Surely that is as worthy as efforts to achieve an all-Ireland democracy. The current state of what we might term 'alternative republicanism' is that it tends to focus on the certainties offered by tactics and campaigns of old. If it hopes to make progress and break out of the straight-jacket it arguable requires something different at this time and that's a debate worth having for those concerned - at least for me. Citing Power is not a nostalgic look to the past but a view to the future that accounts for the reality of where we are currently at. Steve, I scanned the article before submitting it and tried to limit the rhetoric. With my style of writing it's often a hard thing to eliminate while still making the point I hope to make but your criticism is welcome (a work in progress as the man says)

  4. Sean,

    I certainly do not believe that Ta Power was ahead of his time, most of what he has written has basically been a revision of the republican clubs and OIRA material in my opinion. But republicans seem unable to recognize, or even talk about the sticks of their policies.

    It really is the elephant in the room for me. Certain republicans seem to only recognize the brave and bold combatants of the troubles, ie PIRA , INLA in that absolutely useless futile tribal 30 year war which achieved absolutely nothing, only enhancing sectarian divisions.

    Republicanism, dished out from a militaristic nationalist view is a beaten docket, thank christ, SF/PIRA knew it was exhausted. Some could lay claim from mid 70's depending on your view, but the leadership confidence tricked the rank and file based on their own self preservation, leading to needless death, imprisonment, emotion and physical disabilities.

    The vision of nationalistic republicanism in the 1916 societies will never appeal to the British protestants of ulster, so maybe that is something that you and the sticks have in common after all, as their attempts to unite the working class via socialism has in effect seen very little return in investment.

    In my opinion, in this type of society, social conformity powerhouses institutions such as the misinformation media, religion, education systems, family, social relationship groups, living locations, and plain fucking ignorance have basically ensured that things will run pretty much the same for future generations unless, some spark like a new civil rights campaign for all inclusive religions with a focus on the challenging the "quality of life - austerity sanctions" takes the grip of us ulster folk, like the water charges bill down south.

  5. Thanks for the reply. I understand that our island is not perfect, and we have agreed before that we want our young people to grow up in a better society, but I don't think it is so bad that we need such radical change. Weren't the people of Tyrone the happiest in the UK? Russia, China, India et al have bought into free market globalisation, for Ireland to step out would imperil what we already have. You don't make a case for what is so dire about Ireland and what improvements republicans could make to the sweeping away of the status quo. The task ahead of you is monumental and insurmountable, in my humble opinion, using the vehicle of traditional republicanism. Photos of your group standing in cemeteries in fatigues or sharing stages with armed groups puts you beyond the pale for the vast majority of Irishmen. Surely you can see that republicanism has been tarnished beyond repair and the time has come to find a new vehicle with broader appeal. Podemos in Spain abandoned all facets of the traditional left and have achieved more in 4 years than the IU has achieved since the death of Franco. "Struggle" for struggle's sake achieves nothing.
    Anyway, it was a much better article and I look forward to more.

  6. Peter, I don't believe there is anything in the article different to what I've said all along, going back years on here. It's long been my belief that while out and out appeals to nationalism should never be excluded from discussion (as to how we move forward) they are simply not enough in and of themselves. My long-held belief is that republicans must return to the community and take their cue from there, working in service of the community and for its progression, rather than trying to bend its needs towards their own. What I'm trying to say in the article is that republicans need to have the discussion, both among themselves and with others interested in the debate, as to where and how they can contribute to a process of meaningful change at present in THIS society - not in some wishful, mythical alternative that we might set out as our Holy Grail. Should we propound that Holy Grail (an independent republic that works for its citizens and places the people as first priority)? Absolutely, it allows us to present a vision of an alternative to the establishment, which by the way I conceded is not that dire that people want it swept away - indeed that is part of the dilemma republicanism faces. Asides from that, in propounding that alternative given the current state of affairs - the balance of forces as Tony often refers to it - are we in any way likely to see it made reality? Probably not at this time. And so we must work to create change at those points where we can: on austerity, on evictions, on homelessness, on debt, on civil rights etc - all points where we can have a worthwhile contribution to make and where we can challenge the status quo. The Grail will always be there but there are other strings to the bow. Republicans need to take stock of where its traditional belief system stands in contemporary society and make the appropriate changes. Otherwise we will end up 'ghettoising' ourselves. The reference to Podemos is interesting and something I'll look further into but we have seen with Syriza that a strategy based on assuming and wielding state power through government of itself does not work. Power does not reside in elected government and the elected government does not constitute the state - only part of. These are all matters that republicans can discuss but part of the problem, at least as far as I can see, is there is no vehicle at this stage to facilitate it. TPQ has been a great site for this reason, it allows people as ourselves to knock heads together and thrash out ideas. But of itself it is not enough. It could be and arguably it used to be but that's not so much the case of late unfortunately, through no fault of the host. I blame Facebook for the most part, which has consumed the entire country. Just on one other point, you could not have seen the 1916 Societies standing in a cemetery clothed in fatigues or sharing a stage with armed groups or individuals. For us, the avenue of struggle you refer to is in the past and has served its purpose and we need to be looking at entirely new strategies going forward that can meet with acceptance with the people. Armed men on a stage clearly has no part to play in that and indeed, as Dixie argued elsewhere the other day, is actually holding things back. James, I'm sorry I'm only getting to your comment now but indeed, there is much to the analysis forwarded by the Stickies that is of use. The problem I see though is in this notion of a vanguard. For me a vanguard only leads to corrupt sell out - sure didn't the Stickies prove that same point long ago. A democratic grassroots movement is what's needed and there are examples of good and bad towards that end through all shades of republicanism - from the Sticks to the Provos to the IRPS and whatever else. If nothing else that's as good a place as any to start any discussion going forward...

  7. Do you want ideas thrashed out Sean? The person that gave you the best feeback (although not the type you wanted to hear) has never been forgiven since (HJ). I actually think the single best avenue to pursue was given to you by AM, seccession of places like Derry and that was what I was hoping to read after this:

    Can we accept this and work to right the wrong or will we persist with failed tactics and strategies of old?

    Only to find some weirdly blinkered Ta Power tribute, is this not a strategy of old? Are groups the RNU not pursuing this type of communal agitation component of Republicanism around things like water charges already? How has that worked out for them? I read their Chairmans last Ard Fheis speech and wondered if they would be around for next years.
    If you are getting encouragement from avowed Unionists, you should probably conclude you need to think again, and think better.

  8. David, so we shouldn't account for strategic reality and pursue community endeavour? Hmm. I don't see why not but each to their own. As for the idea 'HJ' gave the best feedback, I'll take that as a wind-up. Asides from the above, the notion of county-by-county secession is nothing new, Gerry McGeough forwarded a proposal for that many years ago but I for one never ruled it out

  9. James,

    Ta Power was one of the more articulate Republican Socialist prisoners as well as being one of the most astute republican prisoners. But as you suggest, he was reinventing the wheel at a time when the wheel had come off the project as far as he was concerned. He seemed very worried about the supremacy of nationalism within the republican project. But it is a concept at the core of what Henry Patterson called social republicanism. It goes back to the Connolly, through the Republican Congress into the Sticks/IRSP/Provos.

    It has just never worked as a means to overcome partition and in all likelihood never will. I don't think the republican left can do much to advance the socialist part of the equation but it can help to challenge the tendency for nationalism to lurch to the right.

  10. 1916 was a gaelic enterprise. The irish wrecked it. Ta Power R.I.P.

  11. Sean, its not that you shouldnt pursue community projects, but if your words are to have any meaning, you really shouldnt declare this idea break with whats gone before, when other groups are doing the same thing and wilting away.People will stop listening.And no, its not a windup, before all the animosity, he actually gave you a concise rebuttal that if you registered it,and overcame, would of advanced your ideas.

  12. Sorry AM, Off topic but i dont know how else to contact him : grouch, how much for a taxi from Galway to Inverin? I paid 70 Euro last month and was told this was a rip off afterwards.Id rather give it to you if i have to pay that again in December. my email : if you would like me to book you.Just me and a little Japanese girl.

  13. David, one day the man was the last disciple of Ruairi O'Bradaigh, the next (and ever since) he has been preaching from the Gospel according to John Hume. Why then should I (or anyone else) be expected to engage with or take seriously anything he says? Such an about turn should tell anyone concerned he's trolling, no matter how well dug in he may be round here at this point. That's why I failed to 'recognise his rebuttal' and for no other reason, but the idea he has made criticisms not already forwarded by others, and responded to in due course, well I don't know what to say to that, the man is as original as mud on your boot at the bog. Just to touch on something else you said beforehand, that the only people who responded to the article were/are unionist does not bother me, given that it seems they are, for the most part, the only people left commenting on here (as Larry made note of before making his exit). On one other point, nowhere am I 'declaring' what I've written represents a break with anything that's gone before or suggesting the same has not already been spoken of by others. I'm just putting forward my thinking so those around our own group, with others who may be interested, can batter about a few ideas. Seems you'd almost chalk that down as a crime but that you admit it is something republicans should be working on leaves me wondering what exactly is your point. Maybe you should write an article and see how you fair (I venture you might find it more challenging than sniping from the sidelines on here). How about expanding on your previous assertion that austerity is not a means to transfer wealth from the poor to the rich, could make for an interesting debate. At the end of the day it's each to their own, the article was carried elsewhere and got a good response. That republicans haven't responded to it on TPQ is fair enough but there has been discussion and positive feedback arising elsewhere. I still think we're lacking a vehicle to tease all these matters out but perhaps it may be built over the time ahead. Thanks to TPQ for carrying it regardless, every little bit helps

  14. Sean/DaithiD,

    as I pointed out in another thread the republican argument needs to jump the type of fence that Henry Joy puts up. Because if it doesn't what state republicanism?


    what you regard as his volte face from apparent defender of the holy grail to a self confessed partitionist should not be all that insurmountable an obstacle to engaging the ideas in an attempt to overcome them. At present it sounds more like an excuse than a reason. Yes he has been unreasonable in some of his responses to your arguments and he does avail of anonymity to make his case in a way that you do not. Therefore, a much more persuasive reason for you not engaging him is that you don't like the way he conducts his business and that because he sits behind the shield of a pen name you find that unfair. He seemed to acknowledge this himself a while back in his accepting the distinction between anonymity being used to make a point rather than score one.

    And really, is his seeming 180 degree turn all that different from those republicans (not yourself) who pushed the PSNI over the line, now campaigning against the SF strategy? How that can be squared baffles many observers of the scene. If you can deal with that type of flip you can easily deal with the O'Bradaigh to Hume one.

    You should use the facility here to practice your ideas rather than your indignation. Test them out: probe the fences rather than shout at them.

    The major deficiency with your response to people who criticise your position is the tendency to show the fangs, a playing of the man rather than the ball. That not only makes your original argument look tenuous but it also reaffirms for many people the point that Dixie made elsewhere: the apple has not fallen too far from the Shinner totalitarian tree. Is this really where you want to be sitting at this stage of the game?

    I don't think we have enough unionists commenting here, too few in fact. Out of the last 100 hundred comments I think about four of them are from the unionists. I would prefer it at 44 but I don't determine who comments. Perhaps one reason that they do comment is that they sense an easy victory over the type of argument you present. I am stunned at times at just how much of an open goal you provide for your unionist critics.

    All of this, if you have the ability to take it on rather than resort to the standard republican intolerance, should be a wake up call to you to get your act together. It does not matter if Henry Joy makes the argument or somebody else makes it, it is an obstacle that stands in the way of the type of republicanism you espouse.

  15. ...On one other point, nowhere am I 'declaring' what I've written represents a break with anything that's gone before or suggesting the same has not already been spoken of by others...

    WTF! The article is there for everyone to read,im happy to just leave that there.

    There is nothing wrong with changing your mind if the facts as you see them change.What do you propose for people like that? Never speak in public again because they now think differently, or dogmatically stick to their guns incase of ridicule?
    Ive shed as many opinions as ive retained from reading this site, its what intelligent people should do Sean. The fact HJ publically acknowledged the transition too, is something to admire. Where would we be today if SF leaders did the same? UNless you want to force people into agreeing with you, the best you can ask for is their truth.
    I wasnt making the point only Unionists commented, I was pointing out the conflict of interests they have with you, and how that might impact their motive for encouraging you on this route.
    I have written an article on my tentative position, I may write another. If I dont write another, it wont invalidate any criticism I make of others positions. My ideas are good but my writing is terrible, and Im told im more persuasive in person (good looks/smart clothes/smell nice etc).

  16. Anthony, in what you said there lies the kernel of my feelings regards the so-called 'Henry Joy', I simply do not like the way he conducts himself and have long-held suspicions as to what his real agenda is. Nor would I say his sudden conversion on here is anything we could call genuine (even if our David here accepts it at face value as he suggests above). With that said, I still get the feeling he could be little more than your basic run-of-the-mill troll, hiding from 'life on life's terms' behind a computer screen, with a wee want in there somewhere. I tend to second what grouch said of him, I could actually see him still living at home with his mother. His political opinions simply mean nothing to me and it's not an excuse to 'avoid the substantive of his position'. At the end of the day what is his position if not farce, I just can't give any credence to what he says, for me he is without credibility. You can't be Ruairi O and Johnny Hume at the one time, not even the Great Lafayette could have pulled that off but somehow it's accepted on here. On top of that, as Ozzy said the other day, it's fast becoming rot and on a daily basis but hey, he's free to write what he chooses - just as I'm free to see his diatribe for what it is - even if others can't. As far as the last comment from David goes there's not much I can say in response other than that you's actually talk of this man as a real person is bizarre to me, you's haven't the first clue who or what he is. And just in terms of your 'tentative position', I'm not sure what it is to be honest or how and where it differs to my own but I'll look forward to your piece if you get round to writing it. On another note and just on your concluding comments, there's an old saying round these parts - self praise is no praise

  17. Sean,

    he is a real person. I know his identity. Not our place to reveal it to anyone. His change of perspective is no more a feat than pushing the PSNI over the line and then arguing that the republican project has been sold out. And much less of an accomplishment than that of those who once supported the republican war yet now support the Treatyite position.

    You really only have two choices that will pass muster: you either deal with his arguments or you completely ignore them. There is no halfway house that allows you to rail at him but ignore the arguments.

    Maybe seeing him as a critic rather than a cunt will help you firm up your perspective. We can beat ourselves all day long at chess: try it against another and you find your own vulnerabilities.

  18. Call me old-fashioned but I prefer draughts (or 'checkers' as some of your readers might know the game). As far as all this 'Henry Joy' stuff goes, I've long-tended to do as you suggest, which is to ignore him. Where it has been otherwise relates to trolling on his part or to someone else bringing his name into the discussion, as has been the case here today. I've better things to be at than arguing about Henry Joy or his merits all day long but sadly this is where the discussion has ended up. Just in terms of dealing with his argument, I struggle to see where and when it hasn't been dealt with, some on here accept the legitimacy of the principle of consent whereas I don't. And I certainly don't agree that by barking everyone down about 'accepting life on life's terms' that it adds any weight to an already compromised position (relating to his mysterious volte face). If you need me to forward a credible reason why I reject consent then I'm sure that can easily be sorted. But we both already know the reasoning. In that knowing does not mean we can't accept the same principle is in play or that it presents huge difficulties for republicans who refuse to assent to its merit. But neither does it mean we go home and give up. Thanks again for carrying the piece, away to sort the spuds here for the dinner. Slainte

  19. sean bres

    Last night or very early this morning I read your piece.
    In light of my closing comments about 'restraint of tongue and pen' to Ozzy on the 'No good reason for killing Garda' article I had decided to walk the walk and sit this one out. However in light of the way the thread has developed I've changed my mind. (The most powerful freedom perhaps?)

    If I'd had access to a bigger keyboard I'd have been in sooner; I would have liked to have said at an earlier point that your antipathy is perfectly understandable. I suppose my volte-face since I came on here is almost as incredible as the Pope renouncing the bullshit of Catholicism and all religions and declaring he had some debauchery to catch up on!
    So lets cut you some slack on that score.

    Sean, all the commentators and AM have given their responses and feedback. There's a lot of it, in my opinion, that would serve you and your cause well if you could take it on.

    As AM has noted, I acknowledge my current political stance as that of a pragmatic partitionist. That in essence is the de-facto position of the vast, vast majority of citizens. If your campaign is to have any effect you must be able to make a compelling case to this cohort. To be effective you need to anticipate objections and have convincing rebuttals formulated.
    In parallel to that you have to woo Unionists too.

    If that's your choice then fine; me, I'm of an age where I am all too well aware that I've eaten more than twice as many Christmas dinners than I'm, even most optimistically, ever likely to eat again. Time for me is preferably allocated to effective action towards attainable goals.
    I now with some small regret see I wasted too much time on what has generally become accepted as a lost cause; Peter's metaphors of Irish Republicanism as 'a beaten docket' and as 'a busted flush' capture succinctly both the disappointment and reality of all that. However at least I can console myself with that old adage 'sometimes you win and others you learn'. You on the other hand, so it appears to me, are determined to continue loosing. (Why is Sisyphus coming to mind?)
    In a fast moving and ever-changing world people value stability and predictability. They're a lot more cagey about anything unpredictable that might be perceived as attempts at destabilisation; they will be even more reticent if they perceive the promoters, either individually or collectively, as unstable or unpredictable.

  20. Sean,

    not once have you advanced a plausible argument for uniting the country, for getting the North to join with the South under one Irish state. It is not because you are stupid but because you are like the rest of us: you operate in a terrain that has shut down the possibilities. you don't have a blue print for digging a tunnel to the moon because there is no way to dig a tunnel to the moon. You wanna get there, take a rocket. And in political-strategic terms that rocket is called consent. And the people that have the rocket are the people in the North. That is the political reality. Horrible to republicans no doubt, left stranded as they are on Planet Partition, but what is continuously asked of you and others by your critics is how do you propose getting off it? No answer. OIOV does not remotely offer an answer. It is a call for a 32 County opinion poll to tell us what we already know. People prefer a united Ireland. They prefer it if achieved peacefully but prefer partition if armed campaigning is the suggested means of achieving unity. Futile saying "lets have an opinion poll" which will show we want to go to the moon. But with no rocket ...

    Now that might all sound pretty facetious to you but there is a kernel of logic in there which you might not want to confront but it will confront you.

    Whether Henry Joy makes that observation or somebody else, it is the content that matters. Even if you dismiss Henry Joy, the problem he outlines does not get dismissed with him.

    Nothing wrong with checkers but try playing only yourself - you will win every time.

  21. I see it differently. I am not a partitionist, pragmatic or otherwise. A Jew in Nazi Germany who decides to go along to get along would not be a pragmatic Nazi but would have made a pragmatic acquiescence in Nazism. I think there is a difference between that and actually embracing Nazism. Or is that splitting hairs?

  22. AM

    is that response a reaction to something I said?

    Seems somewhat reactionary rather than well thought out ... its more than hair splitting its a mischievous and hostile interpretation.

    Define your position sir ... in terms of what your stance is on this matter ... and also in terms of what its not.

    Then I think we'll find in essence our positions are not that far apart.

  23. Henry Joy,

    it is obviously a response to what you said about being a pragmatic partitionist. How it is reactionary escapes me. Mischievous and hostile - to what?

  24. Anthony, there is nothing in what you've said that hasn't been to some degree or other acknowledged by myself long ago - years ago in fact. I've long said that republicanism (what's left of it) is a badly fractured political movement and needs to acknowledge where it currently stands - to all intents and purposes in isolation and divided six ways from Sunday. But that doesn't mean we can't reorganise and it certainly doesn't mean we can't discuss what means may exist in order to do so (or what tactics of old are at this point working against best interests). Uniting Ireland may be beyond our reach at present but that doesn't exclude the concept on a permanent basis - and nor does it mean we as republicans can't contribute to bettering society in other ways. The article makes clear OIOV should only be one part of what we do. The idea a plausible argument for uniting the country has never been made by myself is slightly confusing, sure the article we're commenting on states within that it would allow the emergence of 'normal' politics and the inherent change that would hopefully flow from as much. That's as good a reason as any, asides from the fact the country was partitioned against the wishes of its people - your bog-standard reason to advance unity. There are umpteen reasons I could forward as to why we'd be better-served in an all-Ireland republic, the problem, as you suggest, is that such arguments currently lack the necessary political support or the energy required to surmount the existing arrangements (or more accurately the strength of the British position). We'll keep working regardless, we both know partition is unjust and should never be simply accepted as though it were normal. It may be difficult to bring about its demise but it's far from normal and never will be as far as I'm concerned. If that means I and others like me are somehow stuck in the past then so be it, I can accept that. No-one though can force the logic on me that because our current position is so weak we should abandon our long-cherished goal of an independent Ireland and a society befitting the Irish people. As for that bizarre 'reaction' from yer man above it just reaffirms my gut instinct. The less said the better on that score but it's reassuring to know you haven't embraced partition as he does, how utterly 'hostile' of you not to do so. Jesus wept...

  25. Henry Joy,

    Godwin's law would only apply if you were being compared to a Nazi. Which would be a nonsense. So don't be going all sensitive on us. We don't want this to be a site where we all walk on eggshells. You will be accusing me of calling you Herr Henry next FFS.

    On a serious note, the point I seek to tease out is that there is a difference between being a pragmatic something and pragmatically acquiescing in that something. The Nazi/Jew reference is not in any way a comparison of you with either. It is a means of comparing pragmatic something with pragmatic acquiescence in something.

    A pragmatic partitionist to me is someone who embraces the idea of partition for pragmatic reasons rather than merely pragmatically acquiesce in it. A pragmatic partitionist would make the case for partition on pragmatic grounds. The person who acquiesces in partition for pragmatic reasons would not make the case for partition per se but a case for his own acquiescence in it. I still think there is a difference between the two.

    I think we'll find in essence our positions are not that far apart.

    Which is why I asked if I was splitting hairs.

    While you are here Henry Joy, I will continue to practice ideas on you without demeaning you, as you are free to do on me.

  26. Sean,

    I am not exactly sure HJ does embrace partition even though he described himself as a partitionist a few articles back. That is why I have been trying to tease out his position. I allow for the possibility that he is either confused in his use of terms or I am splitting hairs. But given that we regard the comments sections as unsworn testimony we don't want to hold people forever and a day to what they say when they might only be trying out ideas.

    Giving umpteen reasons as to why it would be good in Heaven is all very well but getting there is the problem. A united Ireland is like the magical fly killer: the problem as always is first catching the fly. In political theory there is the phrase about an objective: specify the conditions of its enactment. Fail to do that and we end up accused of selling moonshine.

  27. Anthony, the difference I've noted is that you speak of efforts to end partition as futile, given the obstacles currently in the way, whereas this Henry Joy character has been shouting down those who advocate such efforts as though they were somehow wrong of themselves. I also feel you've encouraged this behaviour in said character, whether it's because he has misunderstood your own position or what I don't know (seems as much on the basis of the above but who really knows)

  28. You were ripped off, i dont taxi anymore, on a quiet day id do inverin for 25 euro, it probably costs 35-40, fucking robbing bastard whoever he was, makes me puke that, absolute scumbag. btw bres an article i came across here u wrote about banks was mighty. u are a ledge my friend, an under appreciated ledge, only frankie commented on that article if i remember. keep her lit, im out of the internet again for a few months now, save for checking email. sick of fannies. i am disgusted that there is no coverage in the msm or alt. media about the industry of selling baby body parts and organs to business which has come to light recently. why arnt women being told what is happening to the aborted child's body parts. The abortionistas are bringing a pill bus to galway this weekend, you can be sure they wont mention this evil. these are dark days.
    Defend life from conception to death. Euthanasia is coming. The pro abortion trendies will have us backward anti-woman catholic fascist atavistic conservatives defending their right to life when the doctors of death lethal injections come for them. Funny old world isnt it. And its coming sooner than u think. You reap what you sow and we have sowed infanticide. Defend your life from the corporate diabolos. Defend life from conception to death. Defend the republic. Up the republic and God bless. over and out.

  29. Sean,

    it has probably gone as far as it can by this point. Not sure we can squeeze much more out of it.

  30. AM

    Thanks for your reassurances as to your intentions. I accept them completely.
    You and I were at a similar point recently and I acknowledged commentator's licence. I have no doubt that you'll afford the same in this regard.

    The majority of parties North and South are committed to the consent principle. The product of all that is partition remains.

    Why are such policy decisions supported by the electorate, albeit reluctantly, by so many?
    I'd contend that their motivations are based in pragmatism; the functional pragmatism of what works (rockets) rather than hankering after an ideological position (tunnelling to the moon). Hence reluctant pragmatic partitionism.

    Our understanding of Godwin's Law differs somewhat.

    I'm off for a few days so I'm happy enough to close this one down too. No doubt all these issues will be revisited. It'll all keep for another day.

  31. Séan,
    have you just booted the OIOV strategy into the bin in favour of struggle from below, or do I misunderstand you?.

  32. Kevin, what I'm saying I suppose is that OIOV should only be one part of what we do and must fit into a broader strategy. It should though remain an integral feature of the republican argument and as far as the Societies of themselves are concerned it should be the lynchpin of what we do as a national organisation. It's worth remembering though that the 1916 Societies themselves are an ensemble of autonomous groups who are pretty much free to involve themselves in whatever campaigns might take their choosing - be it anti-austerity, homelessness, cultural awareness, prisoners welfare or whatever else