Fearghal Mac Bhloscaidh ☭💣writing in BLOSC,

Last year a cavalcade of war criminals landed in Belfast to celebrate the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. Around that time, Brown University published a report that stated that more than 4.5 million people had died due to Washington’s wars since 9/11. Indeed, since the Second World War, the USA has carried out at least 81 overt and covert interventions to promote regime change in other people’s countries. Obviously, since the Good Friday Agreement’s 25th anniversary, the USA and its allies have notoriously given Israel carte blanche to carry out a genocide in Gaza. The United States was built on genocide and chattel slavery and act as successor to the white supremacist British Empire as current global imperial hegemon. The USA is above all the state arm of global capital. If you describe yourself as an anti-imperialist or if you want to end imperialism, then the White House is the last place you should be on St Patrick’s Day.

Yesterday, I attended a protest in Belfast which I thought was organised to criticise the Irish political establishment’s decision to attend the celebrations at the White House. Before leaving the house, I read a tweet from Tommy McKearney, which stated that the Tyrone People’s DĂĄil would not be attending as the event has ‘unfortunately now been turned into a party political rally’. I then found out that Bernadette McAliskey, who was set to speak, would now not be turning up for the same reason. It then became clear that ClĂ­odhna Nic Bhranair, Belfast City Councillor and the manager of the James Connolly Centre, would be speaking on behalf of Sinn FĂ©in. The Belfast branch of the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign [IPSC] operated as the most prominent of several groups on the steering committee for this demonstration. The publicity talked about Shamrocks for Palestine and the Dublin event made it clear what they were protesting: ‘As Irish political leaders prepare to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Joe Biden, the Gaza Genocide’s main sponsor, join us to show that the people of Ireland stand with the people of Palestine’.

It appears that Sinn FĂ©in used their leverage with sympathisers and supporters on the Belfast IPSC group to get an invitation to a meeting organised to protest their position on the White House, along with that of the other main Irish political parties. Sinn FĂ©in then selected a young woman to speak, knowing that she would receive a hostile reaction. I know ClĂ­odhna, she is a highly intelligent and capable person, who surely anticipated that she would receive such a reception. Indeed, senior republican politicians like Gerry Kelly stood directly below the platform encouraging her, instead of speaking themselves. I was standing in front of the People Before Profit [PBP] group and I can confirm that not one of the many PBP members whom I know took part in the hostility directed at ClĂ­odhna. My sense was that this emerged as a spontaneous reaction by sections of a very large crowd who thought they were attending a march protesting Sinn FĂ©in as well as the other Irish political parties who attended the St Patrick’s Day junket. This is important because the social media response by prominent Sinn FĂ©in supporters claimed that the booing was party political and directed by PBP. I have no doubt that, like any political organisation, PBP are using their (correct in my view) position on the White House to help generate support and mobilise, but the hostile reception emerged because of the audacity of Sinn FĂ©in to sup with the Devil and stand with the Angels on the same day.

The reaction by leading Sinn FĂ©in supporters was telling. I have selected one of many examples. AndrĂ©e Murphy tweeted: ‘Look at the strength of this young woman speaking truth in the face of a baying mob. They wouldn’t lace her boots – or the boots of the women who stood in her defence in front of the podium’. She then identified the women as ‘BrĂ­d Keenan and Caral NĂ­ ChuilĂ­n [who] were standing up for oppressed people, especially women, at home and internationally when it was dangerous & while many others chose to look the other way.’ So, the demonstrators opposing US imperialism and Israeli genocide were a ‘baying mob’ who had no revolutionary track record when the bullets were flying during the Troubles. As already noted, Bernadette McAliskey refused to speak because Sinn FĂ©in made a mockery of the event and Tommy McKearney supported her decision. The revolutionary credentials line is a red herring. The logical conclusion would appear to be that unable to stop the protest, Sinn FĂ©in attempted to muddy the waters and portray themselves as a victim, while promoting well-rehearsed tropes about armchair Trots versus their ‘real’ struggle.

The problem with all this is that Sinn FĂ©in’s decision to attend the St Patrick’s Day jamboree demonstrated that when their position on Palestine conflicted with their cosy relationship with the great peace makers in the Pentagon and State Department, then the people of Gaza would understand if they supped with the devil. The issue is that Sinn FĂ©in are running out of length on their spoon while they still pretend to be an anti-imperialist and socialist movement for many within their support base. I recently had a debate as Gaeilge with ClĂ­odhna on the radio about this in the context of the return to Stormont. This is not an ad hominin attack on ClĂ­odha, whom I get on well with, but an honest criticism of Sinn FĂ©in’s position. I was not among the people who jeered, although I understood why many did. They booed because of the contradictory position adopted by Sinn FĂ©in and the party’s chameleon like ability to run with the fox and hunt with the hounds. For example, ClĂ­odhna, whom I am sure has all the attributes and ability to go a very long way in politics, manages the Connolly Centre. The Centre is a contradiction in terms from people who pose as inheritors to Connolly’s legacy while subverting it. Those involved would challenge this analysis, obviously, but objectively, it is a project in managing and negating the revolutionary legacy of Connolly and the Irish revolutionary tradition more generally.

When Connolly was alive, the dominant grouping in Irish nationalism similarly claimed the inheritance rights to the Fenian legacy and sought to incorporate Irish Catholic nationalism into the British Empire – the USA of its day. John Dillon, the son of the Young Irelander, led the Plan of Campaign during the Land War in the 1880s and, before 1916, he regularly mocked young radical republicans, brandishing his own prison record from a generation earlier. As deputy leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, Dillon told all and sundry that he understood the limits of the possible, which involved reconciling Irish nationalism to imperialism and famously recruiting for the British Army in World War One [although he remained somewhat ambiguous regarding his own son’s potential enlistment]. When the British executed Connolly, Clarke, Mac Piarais, and the other anti-imperialist revolutionary leaders, Dillon lamented to the House of Commons that Asquith’s government had washed away our whole life’s work in a sea of blood. Today, Sinn FĂ©in appear similarly torn between liberal integration and a grassroots and wider electoral base intent on real social change.

The aforementioned AndrĂ©e Murphy is on the board of Ireland’s Future, which typifies this trend. An essentially bourgeois organisation, Ireland’s Future represents a liberal push to the centre geared towards constitutional change (mostly) by Sinn FĂ©in sympathisers who have climbed a wrung or two on the social ladder. Just this week, fellow board member Brian Feeney, my predecessor at St Mary’s, claimed that Sinn FĂ©in were right to go to Washington as “Boycotting would be crackers.” His rationale was that there are 230 US companies in the North employing tens of thousands and that Conor Murphy and Joe Kennedy will expand that number and attract the magic “$6 billion investment here that Biden promised last April” (Irish News, 13 March 2024). Feeney is what he always has been, a constitutional nationalist, formerly on the green end of the SDLP. He hasn’t changed since the 1980s, Sinn FĂ©in has and that is why he is now an enthusiast. Yet all we have here is a rerun of the failed economic policies hawked by Stormont since 1998. Multinational companies don’t invest because of sentiment, but to increase profit margins. Sinn FĂ©in run the James Connolly centre while holding the begging bowl out to the global capitalist elite. The $6 billion are their thirty-two pieces of silver. Behave yourself and we will give you a neo-liberal United Ireland of sorts. We might even allow you build a couple of houses, but that socialism carry on is for the birds! Their PR wet dream would be to get Joe Kennedy to give a key note speech on the hospitality level of a revamped Casement Park.

The reason why all this matters is that, politically, the world is approaching a crisis potentially as grave as the First World War. The Good Friday Agreement operates as a fig leaf for Nancy Pelosi and Biden or Blair and his ilk to launder their own war mongering and profiteering past. The possibility of a global conflagration appears greater now than at any time in my life and I lived through the last decade of the Cold War. The GFA generation, Michelle and Emma – the sliothar sister, are miserable pawns in an imperial game. You don’t have to have any affinity for their imperial opponents to realise that the US and its allies are the greatest threat to peace and human survival in the world today. Similarly, the trajectory of western domestic politics is to the authoritarian right – across the board! The same Western liberal establishment have consistently failed to address the contradictions within global capitalism exposed since 2008. I recently watched Yanis Varoufakis’s documentary on the collapse of Syriza. The Troika essentially broke a genuine democratic movement pledged to equality and a sustainable economic future for Greece. Yet, when the liberal establishment hobbles and destroys democracy and with it the hope for a better future, the result is not stability but the empowerment of the extreme right. The contradictions in the system find new avenues for expression and faced with the challenge, the Liberal establishment typically become the handmaidens of authoritarianism and fascism.

Far worse than that, Sinn FĂ©in are not even on Syriza’s level, they sold out before even getting into power. They’ve been operating on a post-dated check for a generation. The lesson from Europe is clear, if Sinn FĂ©in let down the tens of thousands who view them as a vehicle for genuine change because they are in hock to the western imperial establishment in Washington and Brussels, then working-class Irish people will only have one place to go – rightwards. Ireland and the world need movements pledged to the democratic and socialist transformation of society not paddy-wackery and letters from America.

Yet, this political challenge is eclipsed by the far more fundamental environmental catastrophe that looms on the rapidly approaching historical horizon. Irish people need to oppose US imperialism as the political expression of global capitalist hegemony. Yet this is an international not a national struggle, for, if humanity cannot end capitalism, then capitalism will end human society as we know it. This will never be achieved cosying up to the attack dogs of global capital. We have left the era of liberal triangulation well behind and are entering an historical phase where issues of universality, class struggle and human survival must become the primary factors in any conscious human agent’s political mobilisation – the vista is bleak. At junctures like this, historical contradictions become exposed, and clarity emerges. There should be no place for blood-stained shamrocks for those pledged to anti-imperialist or socialist struggle. Constitutional nationalists and liberal hypocrites have never had a problem with genuflecting before the imperium, that’s why Fianna FĂĄil or Fine Gael didn’t send speakers to the demonstrations yesterday – why did Sinn FĂ©in?

Fearghal Mac Bhloscaidh blogs @ BLOSC.

Blood-Stained Shamrocks

Fearghal Mac Bhloscaidh ☭💣writing in BLOSC,

Last year a cavalcade of war criminals landed in Belfast to celebrate the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. Around that time, Brown University published a report that stated that more than 4.5 million people had died due to Washington’s wars since 9/11. Indeed, since the Second World War, the USA has carried out at least 81 overt and covert interventions to promote regime change in other people’s countries. Obviously, since the Good Friday Agreement’s 25th anniversary, the USA and its allies have notoriously given Israel carte blanche to carry out a genocide in Gaza. The United States was built on genocide and chattel slavery and act as successor to the white supremacist British Empire as current global imperial hegemon. The USA is above all the state arm of global capital. If you describe yourself as an anti-imperialist or if you want to end imperialism, then the White House is the last place you should be on St Patrick’s Day.

Yesterday, I attended a protest in Belfast which I thought was organised to criticise the Irish political establishment’s decision to attend the celebrations at the White House. Before leaving the house, I read a tweet from Tommy McKearney, which stated that the Tyrone People’s DĂĄil would not be attending as the event has ‘unfortunately now been turned into a party political rally’. I then found out that Bernadette McAliskey, who was set to speak, would now not be turning up for the same reason. It then became clear that ClĂ­odhna Nic Bhranair, Belfast City Councillor and the manager of the James Connolly Centre, would be speaking on behalf of Sinn FĂ©in. The Belfast branch of the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign [IPSC] operated as the most prominent of several groups on the steering committee for this demonstration. The publicity talked about Shamrocks for Palestine and the Dublin event made it clear what they were protesting: ‘As Irish political leaders prepare to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Joe Biden, the Gaza Genocide’s main sponsor, join us to show that the people of Ireland stand with the people of Palestine’.

It appears that Sinn FĂ©in used their leverage with sympathisers and supporters on the Belfast IPSC group to get an invitation to a meeting organised to protest their position on the White House, along with that of the other main Irish political parties. Sinn FĂ©in then selected a young woman to speak, knowing that she would receive a hostile reaction. I know ClĂ­odhna, she is a highly intelligent and capable person, who surely anticipated that she would receive such a reception. Indeed, senior republican politicians like Gerry Kelly stood directly below the platform encouraging her, instead of speaking themselves. I was standing in front of the People Before Profit [PBP] group and I can confirm that not one of the many PBP members whom I know took part in the hostility directed at ClĂ­odhna. My sense was that this emerged as a spontaneous reaction by sections of a very large crowd who thought they were attending a march protesting Sinn FĂ©in as well as the other Irish political parties who attended the St Patrick’s Day junket. This is important because the social media response by prominent Sinn FĂ©in supporters claimed that the booing was party political and directed by PBP. I have no doubt that, like any political organisation, PBP are using their (correct in my view) position on the White House to help generate support and mobilise, but the hostile reception emerged because of the audacity of Sinn FĂ©in to sup with the Devil and stand with the Angels on the same day.

The reaction by leading Sinn FĂ©in supporters was telling. I have selected one of many examples. AndrĂ©e Murphy tweeted: ‘Look at the strength of this young woman speaking truth in the face of a baying mob. They wouldn’t lace her boots – or the boots of the women who stood in her defence in front of the podium’. She then identified the women as ‘BrĂ­d Keenan and Caral NĂ­ ChuilĂ­n [who] were standing up for oppressed people, especially women, at home and internationally when it was dangerous & while many others chose to look the other way.’ So, the demonstrators opposing US imperialism and Israeli genocide were a ‘baying mob’ who had no revolutionary track record when the bullets were flying during the Troubles. As already noted, Bernadette McAliskey refused to speak because Sinn FĂ©in made a mockery of the event and Tommy McKearney supported her decision. The revolutionary credentials line is a red herring. The logical conclusion would appear to be that unable to stop the protest, Sinn FĂ©in attempted to muddy the waters and portray themselves as a victim, while promoting well-rehearsed tropes about armchair Trots versus their ‘real’ struggle.

The problem with all this is that Sinn FĂ©in’s decision to attend the St Patrick’s Day jamboree demonstrated that when their position on Palestine conflicted with their cosy relationship with the great peace makers in the Pentagon and State Department, then the people of Gaza would understand if they supped with the devil. The issue is that Sinn FĂ©in are running out of length on their spoon while they still pretend to be an anti-imperialist and socialist movement for many within their support base. I recently had a debate as Gaeilge with ClĂ­odhna on the radio about this in the context of the return to Stormont. This is not an ad hominin attack on ClĂ­odha, whom I get on well with, but an honest criticism of Sinn FĂ©in’s position. I was not among the people who jeered, although I understood why many did. They booed because of the contradictory position adopted by Sinn FĂ©in and the party’s chameleon like ability to run with the fox and hunt with the hounds. For example, ClĂ­odhna, whom I am sure has all the attributes and ability to go a very long way in politics, manages the Connolly Centre. The Centre is a contradiction in terms from people who pose as inheritors to Connolly’s legacy while subverting it. Those involved would challenge this analysis, obviously, but objectively, it is a project in managing and negating the revolutionary legacy of Connolly and the Irish revolutionary tradition more generally.

When Connolly was alive, the dominant grouping in Irish nationalism similarly claimed the inheritance rights to the Fenian legacy and sought to incorporate Irish Catholic nationalism into the British Empire – the USA of its day. John Dillon, the son of the Young Irelander, led the Plan of Campaign during the Land War in the 1880s and, before 1916, he regularly mocked young radical republicans, brandishing his own prison record from a generation earlier. As deputy leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, Dillon told all and sundry that he understood the limits of the possible, which involved reconciling Irish nationalism to imperialism and famously recruiting for the British Army in World War One [although he remained somewhat ambiguous regarding his own son’s potential enlistment]. When the British executed Connolly, Clarke, Mac Piarais, and the other anti-imperialist revolutionary leaders, Dillon lamented to the House of Commons that Asquith’s government had washed away our whole life’s work in a sea of blood. Today, Sinn FĂ©in appear similarly torn between liberal integration and a grassroots and wider electoral base intent on real social change.

The aforementioned AndrĂ©e Murphy is on the board of Ireland’s Future, which typifies this trend. An essentially bourgeois organisation, Ireland’s Future represents a liberal push to the centre geared towards constitutional change (mostly) by Sinn FĂ©in sympathisers who have climbed a wrung or two on the social ladder. Just this week, fellow board member Brian Feeney, my predecessor at St Mary’s, claimed that Sinn FĂ©in were right to go to Washington as “Boycotting would be crackers.” His rationale was that there are 230 US companies in the North employing tens of thousands and that Conor Murphy and Joe Kennedy will expand that number and attract the magic “$6 billion investment here that Biden promised last April” (Irish News, 13 March 2024). Feeney is what he always has been, a constitutional nationalist, formerly on the green end of the SDLP. He hasn’t changed since the 1980s, Sinn FĂ©in has and that is why he is now an enthusiast. Yet all we have here is a rerun of the failed economic policies hawked by Stormont since 1998. Multinational companies don’t invest because of sentiment, but to increase profit margins. Sinn FĂ©in run the James Connolly centre while holding the begging bowl out to the global capitalist elite. The $6 billion are their thirty-two pieces of silver. Behave yourself and we will give you a neo-liberal United Ireland of sorts. We might even allow you build a couple of houses, but that socialism carry on is for the birds! Their PR wet dream would be to get Joe Kennedy to give a key note speech on the hospitality level of a revamped Casement Park.

The reason why all this matters is that, politically, the world is approaching a crisis potentially as grave as the First World War. The Good Friday Agreement operates as a fig leaf for Nancy Pelosi and Biden or Blair and his ilk to launder their own war mongering and profiteering past. The possibility of a global conflagration appears greater now than at any time in my life and I lived through the last decade of the Cold War. The GFA generation, Michelle and Emma – the sliothar sister, are miserable pawns in an imperial game. You don’t have to have any affinity for their imperial opponents to realise that the US and its allies are the greatest threat to peace and human survival in the world today. Similarly, the trajectory of western domestic politics is to the authoritarian right – across the board! The same Western liberal establishment have consistently failed to address the contradictions within global capitalism exposed since 2008. I recently watched Yanis Varoufakis’s documentary on the collapse of Syriza. The Troika essentially broke a genuine democratic movement pledged to equality and a sustainable economic future for Greece. Yet, when the liberal establishment hobbles and destroys democracy and with it the hope for a better future, the result is not stability but the empowerment of the extreme right. The contradictions in the system find new avenues for expression and faced with the challenge, the Liberal establishment typically become the handmaidens of authoritarianism and fascism.

Far worse than that, Sinn FĂ©in are not even on Syriza’s level, they sold out before even getting into power. They’ve been operating on a post-dated check for a generation. The lesson from Europe is clear, if Sinn FĂ©in let down the tens of thousands who view them as a vehicle for genuine change because they are in hock to the western imperial establishment in Washington and Brussels, then working-class Irish people will only have one place to go – rightwards. Ireland and the world need movements pledged to the democratic and socialist transformation of society not paddy-wackery and letters from America.

Yet, this political challenge is eclipsed by the far more fundamental environmental catastrophe that looms on the rapidly approaching historical horizon. Irish people need to oppose US imperialism as the political expression of global capitalist hegemony. Yet this is an international not a national struggle, for, if humanity cannot end capitalism, then capitalism will end human society as we know it. This will never be achieved cosying up to the attack dogs of global capital. We have left the era of liberal triangulation well behind and are entering an historical phase where issues of universality, class struggle and human survival must become the primary factors in any conscious human agent’s political mobilisation – the vista is bleak. At junctures like this, historical contradictions become exposed, and clarity emerges. There should be no place for blood-stained shamrocks for those pledged to anti-imperialist or socialist struggle. Constitutional nationalists and liberal hypocrites have never had a problem with genuflecting before the imperium, that’s why Fianna FĂĄil or Fine Gael didn’t send speakers to the demonstrations yesterday – why did Sinn FĂ©in?

Fearghal Mac Bhloscaidh blogs @ BLOSC.

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