Don't Misrepresent Saoradh

Republican activist, Terrier, writing under a pseudonym because of constant PSNI harassment, responds to a recent piece on republicanism by Sean Matthews.

The title is definitely misleading: "Saoradh and the politics of Unfinished Revolution" - yet not one reference to either Saoradh's publicly available constitution or a plethora of statements and press releases issued since their inception. Nor indeed any mention of any activists involved in Saoradh, which may have even shed at least a little light on past and current activism of those involved.

Instead it is a critique of Republicanism post-GFA, with a fleeting glance at two organisations that have existed prior to that. One of which publicly opposed it, yet decommissioned under the GFA framework and another that is sadly fractured and beyond resuscitation.

Just had a quick look at it there, but won't waste time with the usual where are the anarchists and what are they doing? to make themselves and/or activists relevant? in the true sense of the word. Criticisms that are thrown at Sean and other Irish anarchists quite a lot.

But one thing that should be apparent from Saoradh's constitution, and reflected in their activism to date, is the bottom up approach to policy, strategy and actions. One small revolutionary way this is reflected is in minority reports from those on the losing side of ard fheis motions (unique in Ireland to the best of my knowledge), the internal transparency and the collective leadership model. All of which, though not exclusive examples, see a conscious attempt to avoid repeating the failed mistakes of past organisations. And not just the "Provies" of old that Sean mentions.

Like any political project, Saoradh will be judged by actions and ideology collectively - not the mistakes, failures (or successes) of others post-GFA. Anyone rushing to make judgement of Saoradh in their infancy would be incredibly harsh, but also politically naïve.

Not a bad critique/article in terms of how it is written and presented, even if I don't agree with all the content. But the title is misleading for sure, and may be a good way of guaranteeing clicks. Whether that was a conscious decision or not I'll let Sean keep to himself.


  1. The battle in republicanism is between the agrarian and the 'metropole' archetypes.Without some kind of soaring rhetoric to immerse people in, this differential will dictate the trajectory of any nascent movement.

  2. Daithi D

    Any chance of that in English?

  3. Thanks for the reply Terrier,

    Rather than be ‘misleading’ I think Saoradh and the politics of Unfinished Revolution was suitable for the points I was trying to make in the article, especially whenever Saoradh is the lastest republican group to emerge in a contested left republican space and has received considerable media coverage.

    To be fair though, I only made two references to ‘Saoradh’ in the article and because it is a fairly new group, I felt it was unfair to go to into great detail regarding the organization, other than the tradition it has emerged from.

    The article itself is more broad than just a critique of republicanism post GFA as you have referred to. Growing up in the North, I think it is much easier to embrace what you know and grew up with rather that challenging the prevailing othordoxy. It is based on my own experiences and involvement in republicanism, which lead to me looking for answers elsewhere after the defeat of provisional project and its complete recuperation by the status-quo. Ie the need to look beyond an analysis looking at organizational praxis, ideology and the Irish context rather that has just rested on ‘sell-outs’ and ‘traitors’ to describe the transition from poachers to gamekeepers. Therefore, it would be misleading to just focus on references to Saoradh.

    I also don’t think you are wasting anyone time by asking what anarchists are doing in Ireland. While we are aware of our limitations and Irish anarchism has no historical tradition, as a movement it is only coming into existence since late 1970s. We do not yet enjoy the popular understanding of and respect for anarchist ideas that can be found among thousands of militants in countries like Sweden, Spain, France, Italy or Korea but this is changing. The other fact that the political landscape has been dominated by the reactionary forces of nationalism and unionism for last 30 years and therefore everything else was put to the side. The election of Gerry Carroll maybe an indicator of the political terrain changing.

    Anarchists have and continue to be involved in a range of struggles from the workplace, to women’s right to choose, environmental and opposing state repression to prisoner support. In recent times, anarchists have been particulary involved in the struggle for womens right to choose and access to abortion services that has mobilized thousands on the streets. In the South, they were very active in the campaign against water charges at a community level in terms of building a mass movement based on self-organisation and direct action. In the North, anarchists have re-established Just Books that provides a meeting space for workers in struggle and other campaigns, bookshop and library. ( Im am not a member but the WSM website gives a snapshot of the struggles they are involved in to date

    I have read Saoradh’s constitiution and it is positive to see their have been strives made in terms of reflecting a ‘bottom up’ approach but wether this is just lip service like other organisations such as Eirigi and other Leninist organization remains to be seen. Secondly, how does this ‘bottom up’ approach square with more recent statements in relation to the death of Fidel Castro that ‘Cuba remains a benchmark for our goals and aspirations.’
    While Cuba has made enormous achievements in education and healthcare, it has anything but a ‘bottom up’ approach which is down to the authoritarian Leninist ideology underpinning the regime rather than any blockade or other circumstances. Where is the attempt to understand both the positives and negatives? Indeed, Castro equally persecuted those of the left and the right who questioned party rule especially the once strong anarchist movement on the island.-

    Lastly, given now there are probably more splits and divisions within republicanism than the left, what are the differences between Saoradh and Eirigi and other groups such as RNU?

  4. Don't think a pseudonym is required TBH. I have recieved no police harrassment from any of my comments here.

  5. Haha Larry, I was a little oiled when i wrote it, I think I dreamt I was Henry Joy. Its not a deep point.

  6. Daithi D

    Good man yerself!! 24 pack of draught Guinness going into my fridge for the festive season in a fortnight. YOU HAVE ALL BEEN WARNED lol

  7. Dáithí

    your original point about the challenges facing nascent movements are, at least to my mind, valid enough.

    The 'metrepole' cabal of those in Belfast and Derry city could not have held the overall sway they did within 'The Movement' but for the commercial debentures accruing to those in positions of power and influence in border regions; the on-going profits available to 'border-republican-entrepreneurs' which were guaranteed solely by partition ensured a few, predominately those in South Armagh and North Louth, swung the conventions.

    (No harm in the occasional visit to the spirit world but I'd wish you'd have higher aspirations and a better exemplar for yourself than to dream of Henry JoY).

  8. HJ, I take it where i find it. As with many things I dont see how re-distrubuting land in such an agrarian based society will wash with anyone outside of Belfast/Dublin coffee shops or student unions.It terminal arrogance to not see this. Ive said before, the thing that stands out from 1984 was that the opposition to Big Brother was controlled too, and ineffectual from the start.(Hint)