Gearóid Ó Loingsigh 🔖At first when I heard about this book, I thought it would be some spoof by a wannabe and wasn’t inclined to take it seriously.


That was a mistake. The Yank is an entertaining and informative tale of the exploits of a Yank who joined the IRA. That in itself would be a story worth telling, except John Crawley’s life in the IRA was no ordinary story. He comes across as a committed and dedicated Irish republican and even a veritable James Bond, though he might not like the comparison with the fictional agent of British imperialism and murder at her majesty’s request.

Crawley was a young man raised in the US, who when his family moved back to Ireland eventually decided to go back to the US and joined the Marines, with just one purpose in mind, to become a fighting and killing machine and return to Ireland to join the IRA. By fighting and killing machine, I don’t mean some mindless grunt as the Yankee military might put it. He was determined and trained hard and excelled, to such a point that the US intelligence services wanted to recruit him and when he took the decision to come back to Ireland the US military were sorry to see him go. He was one of their best, something they recognised and tried to take advantage of. Sadly, his undisputable abilities were not recognised by the IRA and Martin McGuinness in particular. They had apparently little use for his rather unique skill set, which would be considered to be invaluable in any armed organisation, except in the IRA under Adams and McGuinness.

Crawley tells his autobiographical story in a very readable fashion; at times you feel you are having a fireside chat with a rather likeable man. It is an easy read and worth it. The book has received some criticism from bourgeois critics who would rather that he just told his story of a Yank in the IRA, much like Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. But his tale is not one of fiction and the politics of Ireland are intimately bound up with his decision to join the IRA and remain in it, even after a lengthy prison sentence following his capture on the Marita Anne, when he and former Sinn Féin T.D. Martin Ferris tried to import arms to Ireland.

His politics are important to the story. He is at times quite blunt and even clumsy in how he states them, sounding very much like Ruari Ó Bradaigh at times, though in the last chapter his explanation of why he rejected the Good Friday Agreement is much better, sincere and at times hits the nail on the head. He dedicated his life to an ideal and fought for it. He had never suffered at the hands of the Brits, nor does he seem to be caught up some dewy-eyed nationalist dream but rather he made an ideological decision to commit to something and stuck with it. This ideal was betrayed and part of how it was betrayed is shown in his story. He doesn’t set out to besmirch McGuinness but I have to admit that I never took seriously any of the conspiracy tales around McGuinness and Adams, but there are many details in the book that call into question what McGuinness was about, and with whom in later years, and I am now more sympathetic to some of these stories.

Crawley had a military expertise that few if anyone else in the IRA had and yet McGuinness the head honcho in the IRA whose later reputation as a military man would help sway the IRA towards the GFA and disarmament did not value his expertise or indeed listen to him. He describes him as military illiterate, something I am inclined to agree with. But McGuinness could not only not be questioned politically, but militarily. He remarks at one point about IRA operations and weaponry that
Martin went silent.

I could see he was seething, but he said no more about it. I shut my mouth. The last thing I wanted to do was alienate him. I wanted to help the IRA beat the Brits. I wasn’t there to criticise him personally, although I believe that’s how he interpreted it. My heart fell into my boots. I had expected to be led by skilled professionals, men who were technically and tactically proficient. A true professional would value the correction and pass it on to the men on the ground but not this fellow. He took it as an insult.

Because of his status and prestige in the movement, I knew that if Martin McGuinness said the rocket didn’t explode then, as far as the IRA was concerned, it didn’t explode. Nobody was going to listen to what I had to say about it. It didn’t matter to me personally whether or not I was believed, but the real damage was to volunteers’ confidence in the weapon.

He deals with the politics of betrayal in the GFA, and though he laments and rails against the lack of professionalism from the IRA leadership and the consequences of the illiteracy of McGuinness & Co. he doesn’t deal with the politics of a movement where McGuinness and others who were undoubtedly careerists from the beginning were able to hold sway. How could a movement get away with sending out men and women to fight, die and kill and not try to do their best for them? This question goes beyond the individuals concerned, though they played a major role in it. This question is not answered. But he gives us a lot of information, some of which should raise questions about the IRA leadership in the minds of the reader and indeed Crawley who also deals with the issue.

Crawley made many suggestions to the IRA and McGuinness in particular about things they could do. It ranged from simple stuff that every sniper have their own rifle adjusted for them, to other things. His ideas were, and pardon the pun, shot down. Most of them were basic common-sense things, others were based on his extensive and intense experience in the US military. Perhaps McGuinness and Adams watched the wrong documentaries and war films, but some of his suggestions were not a million miles from common sense, but yet the military expert of the IRA, McGuinness, rejected them. Why? We do not know, though he does hint at it later in the book.

There is no doubt that the IRA was infiltrated from top to bottom. That is beyond question and he refers to various activities that show that. He also points out that many of the more successful IRA operations in Britain, were successful because the IRA leadership knew nothing about them. The operation he himself was arrested for the second time was, he has said in interviews, probably due to informants. The first time he was arrested aboard the Marita Anne was also due to an informer, Seán O’ Callaghan. This is a matter of public record. He notes about operations in Britain that he had some knowledge of, but could also be applied to other operations he had nothing to with such as the Brighton bombing that:

This policy of pulverising the heart of England’s financial district was not the result of the IRA Army Council sitting around a table, hammering out a grand strategy and ordering it to be implemented. Six of the seven men on the Council knew nothing of these attacks until they heard about them on the news. The Baltic Exchange and Bishopsgate bombings took place because a handful of volunteers in the GHQ England Department, with significant input from South Armagh, put the operations together on their own initiative.

At some point the question arises as to what degree MI5 was both directing the IRA campaign and fighting against it. This was never countenanced by the IRA leadership or indeed many, though not all, members.

Dark murmurings by some that the IRA might have been infiltrated at the highest level were dismissed as treacherous by most volunteers. Although we knew that the CIA had infiltrated the KGB and the KGB had, in turn, recruited top people within the CIA, FBI, MI5 and MI6, the notion that the Brits might have infiltrated the IRA in any meaningful way was laughed out of court. Even to hint that it might be possible was deemed to be letting the team down, if not bordering on disloyalty.

Again, Crawley does not ask why this was so. It wasn’t just the failings of individuals but is more typical of armed organisations around the world that demand unquestioning loyalty. The loyalty, a noble concept, of IRA members was their own undoing. The movement was not based on politics but loyalty to a leadership, one which did a deal with the Brits and undermined its own armed campaign.

In Crawley’s account there are many, numerous examples of when the IRA could have done more and indeed had he been listened to, the war would have been very different, both in intensity and also in choice of targets. The illiterates chose not to listen to him. However, though he thinks the IRA could have waged a war to beat the Brits to a standstill, it couldn’t. He does recognise the importance of politics which he correctly distinguishes from electoralism, which only served to further the careers of Adams and others. However, he is insistent on the chances of the military campaign, mistakenly I believe. Armed struggle can be an impetus to mass struggle or a support to it. It can also frequently be a substitute for it. By the time he joined the IRA, the armed struggle was a substitute for mass struggle and an impediment to their electoral strategy. It was, as he notes wound down in the run up to the GFA, but not just in the name of electoralism but in the name of winding down any opposition to British rule. Of some of his former comrades he says:

It was stomach-churning to listen to those sanctimonious dupes within the Provisional movement who began boasting about their “journey,” as if the transition from resistance to collaboration was a measure of personal growth. Guided by the dark hand of British intelligence, they helped transform the Provos from the most dangerous opponent of British rule in Ireland into the gift that keeps on giving.

He is not wrong, the GFA keeps giving on, the Provos have travelled around the world lecturing insurgent organisations on the error of their ways, from Iraq to Mexico and even dropped into Colombia during the peace process to lend a hand to the defeat of the FARC, an organisation that was in any case bereft of strategy, morals and ultimately of any political ideas, something which became very clear after they signed their peace deal. A bit like Adams and co.

The politics aside his book is a fascinating look at the life of an IRA volunteer, one who has not bowed down to the political correctness of the SF leadership. His description of his time in England would be riveting, except we obviously know the outcome. It is nevertheless interesting. Crawley has a gift for writing, and he should not stop now. In all conflicts Historic Memory, as it is termed is important and just another battlefield. His is a voice that deserves to be heard and one which has to date been drowned out by Adams and McGuinness loyalists. He should write more about his experiences.

There has been a slew of publications and memoirs by IRA volunteers, many of them by Adams loyalists. This is not one of them. Prior to this, our only insight on the inner workings and politics of individual volunteers was through the Boston College. At the time Sinn Féin described it as a touts charter, due to the criticism levelled, by those who gave their testimony, at Adams and co. Martin McGuinness is dead and there have been too many publications, sanctioned by the IRA, or at least not meeting with its disapproval for Crawley’s book to be placed in that category. Instead, they have opted, unsuccessfully, to ignore it, hoping just like the IRA it will go away. That hasn’t happened and the book is doing well and deserves to be read.

John Crawley, 2022, The Yank: My Life as a Former US Marine in the IRA. Merrion Press. ISBN-13: ‎978-1785374234

⏩ Gearóid Ó Loingsigh is a political and human rights activist in Latin America writing for Socialist Democracy. 

The Yank

Lynx By Ten To The Power Of Three Hundred And Ninety One

 

A Morning Thought @ 1628

Tommy McKearneyWhat on earth was going on here last month? 

4-October-2022

To all appearances a supposedly sovereign independent republic immersed itself in sympathy and affection for the British monarchy.

Within hours of the announcement of Elizabeth’s death, RTE had a crew broadcasting solemnly from London. The Government fell over backwards in its determination to offer heartfelt condolences. Micheál Martin, leader of the so-called republican party, ordered every council building in the 26 Counties to fly the Tricolour at half mast on the day of the funeral.

Perceptions are often deceptive, though, and the reality is that many Irish people were not only unmoved by England’s royalist pageant but were deeply uncomfortable at the craven response to it. Ireland has a centuries-long history of a republicanism based not simply on sentiment but on lived experience. For too long the British Crown presided over so much misery and repression that its transgressions cannot easily be forgotten or forgiven.

While it is understandable that socialists and republicans would deplore the unprincipled forelock-tugging from the Irish establishment, it is important to reflect more deeply on the underlying significance of these events. Was it merely an embarrassing display of nostalgia for the old empire, or was there a more hard-headed calculation at work?

There may well be an amount of grovelling involved. With so many Irish people having served in Britain’s armed forces (including the Taoiseach’s uncles), it would be a surprise if it were otherwise. Nevertheless it is becoming increasingly obvious that, in a rapidly changing world order, an influential section of the Irish ruling class believe it is necessary to reset the connection with Britain. Promoting tolerance and even affection for the “Royal Family” is just one step along the way.

The monarchy is more than pomp and ceremony. As an institution, it serves to reinforce the permanence of existing power structures. What better way to legitimise a rigid, class-based capitalist society than having the office of head of state as a hereditary entitlement, an office that may be passed, tax-free, from the richest woman in the world to her academically challenged 73-year old son.

As for a funeral cortege consisting of 6,000 uniformed members of the armed forces—well, it hardly indicates a significant change of thinking from the nineteenth-century era of gunboat diplomacy.

And that’s exactly the point of it all: to preserve power and privilege for the few. Without doubt, maintaining the status quo is also a matter of real concern for Ireland’s ruling class.

The Irish establishment is now faced with a number of threats to its power base. From an establishment point of view, two issues in particular are deemed threatening. One is the age-old matter of the Six-County state, with its potential for creating destabilisation. Results from the latest census have done little to assuage the fears of the Southern bourgeoisie as the continued existence of that dysfunctional political entity is put further in question.

The second issue is a growing challenge to the Irish establishment’s dependence for its wealth and privilege on the promotion and practice of neoliberalism.

That neoliberalism is failing its authors, suggesting a period of instability for capitalism, was shown in the August issue of Socialist Voice, in an article by Greg Godels, writing for Marxism-Leninism Today.¹ Significantly, a remarkably similar assessment has appeared in an opinion piece published recently on its editorial page by that gospel of the markets, the Financial Times.

Prof. Larry Kramer, president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, pulled no punches in his Financial Timesarticle when describing neoliberalism’s failings.² In his words, it has “fostered grotesque inequality, fuelled the rise of populist demagogues, exacerbated racial disparities and hamstrung our ability to deal with crisis like climate change.”

There was much in his critique that socialists would agree with. However, and in spite of that, the professor’s recommendations for dealing with capitalism’s crisis remain fixed within private-sector parameters. Fearing that China’s economic model may prove an attractive alternative, he stated that if capitalism is to survive it will need to adapt, as it has done in the past.

Therein lies the problem for capitalism; because, while we know that the system has proved itself capable of adapting, it has rarely done so with a seamless or painless transition. Conflict arises when economic change is being enforced or resisted, and always with traumatic disruption and pain for working people. On some occasions such adjustments have even led to war or revolution.

It would appear that Britain at present is experiencing the working out of this process of change. Having spearheaded the neoliberal onslaught during the Thatcher years, Britain is now struggling with all the consequences identified by Prof. Kramer. While other developed capitalist economies, such as the United States under Joe Biden, France, and Germany, have been moving in favour of greater state intervention (in the short term at least), Britain has bucked the trend.

In keeping with a ruling class steeped in the myth of empire, its new prime minister has decided not to change but to reinforce policies from the past. The September mini-budget introduced by the chancellor of the exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng, was just such an attempt to serve the gods of Thatcherite neoliberalism, a package designed to provide more for the already rich coupled with a promise to further restrict trade unions’ right to withdraw labour. That this initiative has caused the English pound to slump appears not to have dented Tories’ confidence in its strategy.

That Britain’s governing party is so determined to adhere to the most extreme form of neoliberalism is a source of comfort for Ireland’s comprador ruling class. Unsure of how to deal with a developing economic challenge, emphasised by thousands marching to protest against the cost-of-living crisis, England can become a point of reference for the Irish establishment. Hence their need to construct a new affinity with British institutions, starting with obeisance to the Crown.

Socialist republicans can take some comfort from the fact that our history alone shows that they face an uphill task. Nevertheless, we must take every opportunity to ensure that the 26 Counties does not revert to abject colonial status.

  1. A century has passed since Liam Lynch said, “We have declared for an Irish Republic, and will not live under any other law.” Surely we can at least agree with him on that.Greg Godels, “Towards a New Political Order,” Marxism-Leninism Today, 17 July 2022.
  2. Larry Kramer, “The market must not become an end in itself,” Financial Times, 17/18 September 2022.
Tommy McKearney is a left wing and trade union activist. 
Follow on Twitter @Tommymckearney 

Preserving Power And Privilege

Christopher Owens 🔖 It’s oddly prescient that, whenever I started this review, the Office for National Statistics in the UK revealed that the numbers of people in England and Wales, who identified as ‘Christian’, had dropped by 13%.



Of course, this has brought about a certain amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth among the usual commentators. Some are merely expressing sorrow for what they see as their way of life slowly disappearing, while others are using it to make points that can be read as Muslim bashing.

In times like these, we need art to help us understand these convoluted times. And few people are as well placed as Nick Cave.

From his beginnings in The Boys Next Door, who would mutate into The Birthday Party (one of the most manic and terrifying post-punk acts) through to the Bad Seeds, Nick Cave has grown and metamorphosised into an artist with a vision rooted in American blues and folk but with an ear for the esoteric. And, crucially, he has brought the mainstream closer to him by way of his influence and ever-expanding musical palate. When one hears a record like Push the Sky Away, it is impossible to not feel some connection with a part of us that we did not realise existed.

Since the death of his teenage son, Arthur, in 2015 (and, eerily, the death of his eldest son earlier this year), Cave has been using his standing to address the nature of grief, the power of faith (even if it is a sceptical faith) and how the chaos of the world feeds into making some of the most profound pieces of art.

This book, made up of many hours of discussion with Armagh born Sean O’Hagan (ex NME and currently writing for The Guardian/The Observer) is a fascinating, humourous and insightful read from two men who have known each other for a long time (dating back to this notorious interview which, as Cave reveals in this book, was conducted the day after he came out of rehab). O’Hagan gives Cave plenty of room to make his case, but occasionally pushes back on him or puts him on the spot (such as reading old quotes back to Cave), so don’t mistake this for a hagiography.

Arthur’s death is repeatedly referenced and discussed throughout, but there are other topics and strands of thought that spring from this tragedy that make this book much more than a counselling session. Although there are moments where, like most artists, Cave struggles to articulate how the creative process works for him, there’s no denying that his insights are entertaining, thought provoking and honest.

When asked about foregrounding his lyrical preoccupations for the listener, he replies that he thinks:

…of Ghosteen as essentially an epic story created from a contained moment that is very difficult for me to describe. It’s an ecstatic, spiritual declaration emerging out of an ordinary moment…And perhaps the central image is a static one – the line in ‘Spinning Song that goes, ‘You sitting at the kitchen table listening to the radio.’ This line is, of course, unremarkable as an image. But to me it is anything but ordinary, because it is the last memory I have of Susie before the phone rang with new that our son had died. It is a commonplace image, but for me it’s transcendent because it’s the last unbroken memory of my wife.

The listener, armed with this knowledge, may very well reinterpret the song and find a darkness and melancholia present where it may not have been obvious. These added layers can also allow for multiple readings and a deeper understanding/relationship with the world. By transmitting this aura of grief, it helps us understand the many facets of life and death and brings us closer together.

With this in mind, it’s no wonder why there’s such a strong connection between art and faith. Think of the paintings inspired by Christianity during the Renaissance and even the likes of Salvador Dali and Francis Bacon could not have painted some of their most well-known work without Catholic imagery. Likewise, there is a strong, but unorthodox, connection in Cave’s work (which isn’t surprising for a man who named an album after Acts 26:14).

Beginning by talking about how he’s ... 

…not really that interested in the more esoteric ideas of spirituality. I’m drawn to what many people would see as traditional Christian ideas. I’m particularly fascinated with the Bible and in particular the life of Christ…I was surrounded by people who displayed zero interest in spiritual or religious matters, or if they did, it was because they were fiercely anti-religious. I was operating in a Godless world…so there was no real nurturing of these ideas. But I was always struggling with the notion of God and…feeling a need to believe in something ...

... he goes on to posit the notion that scepticism is an integral part of faith as the seeming contradiction between the irrationality of the real world and the desire for meaning in a mysterious realm. Even more intriguingly, Cave argues that too much faith in either premise leads to, in his words, ‘belligerent dogmatism’.

A genuinely insightful and intriguing way of considering faith, even if one doesn’t accept his conclusions.

For a man whose career has been spent wrestling with contradictions and tapping into tradition, this book won’t provide easy answers. But it will help you understand where his art comes from, how such a worldview can help us understand our place in the world and how it even helps some feel a greater attachment to something out of their hands.

The sort of book needed for the end of the year.

Nick Cave & Sean O’Hagan, 2022, Faith, Hope and Carnage. Cannongate Books, ISBN-13: 978-1838857660

🕮 Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist.

Faith, Hope And Carnage

Lynx By Ten To The Power Of Three Hundred And Ninety

 

A Morning Thought @ 1627

Matt Treacy ✒ I was watching a BBC film about Boris Pasternak, the great Russian novelist and author of Doctor Zhivago, recently. 


What was interesting was that when the regime decided to go after him in the late 1940s they did not initially send the NKVD to kick his door down.

What they did instead was to use the allegedly independent Writers Union and the officially approved Novy Mir literary journal to first refuse to publish Pasternak and then denounce him as a “black sheep.” In typical Stalinist fashion all of this was used as a pretext to imprison Pasternak’s mistress Olga Invinskaya and only the death of Stalin himself probably saved both herself and Boris from death.

It is admittedly stretching the analogy on my part, but do certain people in RTÉ consider themselves to be tasked with a similar role to the Writers Union and the press “organs” of late Stalinism? Do some of them regard themselves as gatekeepers for the government or official line on certain issues?

Certainly, that is the impression that might be garnered from ther RTÉ tweet last night in response to the claim by Fianna Fáil Clare TD Cathal Crowe that perhaps his own Government might consider a cap on the number of Ukrainian refugees taken in to Ireland. The RTÉ News tweet both highlights the fact that Crowe was speaking “contrary to official Government policy” but also, and probably more importantly from a particular perspective, that he was questioning, perhaps even advocating a breach of, “EU law.”


And if there’s one thing that we learned at our granny’s knee it is that no good comes from questioning EU law. It is the modern Irish liberal elite’s version of playing hurling in the fairy ring.

The law in question is Council Directive 2001/55/EC that was approved in July 2001 in response to the refugee crisis in the former Yugoslavia. It was triggered for the first time on February 24 this year in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Article 25 of the Directive refers to the “capacity to receive such persons” on the part of each member state, so there is no legal obligation as is implied by the RTÉ tweet to agree to take unlimited numbers.

As the Article states:

The Member States shall receive persons who are eligible for temporary protection in a spirit of Community solidarity. They shall indicate – in figures or in general terms – their capacity to receive such persons.

Even though the Irish government and all of the Dáil opposition parties have stated that there ought to be no limit, that is a political decision and not one that is legally binding. Other states, including France, have clearly some notional idea of what that limit is given the proportionally smaller numbers they have taken in.

Therefore, when Deputy Crowe states that it is his belief that his own county of Clare and Ireland as a whole has reached that capacity he is perfectly within his rights to do so. The stretching of that capacity is indicated by the enormous pressures being placed on accommodation, schools, health and other public provisions.

It is a crisis that is not helped either by the fact that a large number of people – better described as economic migrants – from other countries, including those who are not considered to be unsafe such as Georgia, are clearly taking advantage of the current situation and indeed the ambiguity around the Directive to stake a claim to being provided with asylum and all that goes with it in Ireland.

Other members of the Oireachtas, including Senator Sharon Keoghan, who yesterday claimed that the Irish state simply does not have the “structural capacity” to sustain the current demand, and Tipperary Rural Independent TD Mattie McGrath who echoed the widespread public unease at what is taking place within communities, have elicited condemnation and even heckling from both government and opposition Senators, TDs and Ministers when saying similar things to Cathal Crowe.

Minister Roderic O’Gorman yesterday defended his government’s decision to accept unlimited numbers of people from countries other than Ukraine on the basis that “Ukraine is not the only war on our planet right now.”

It may not be, but what we do know, and this is supported by the official statistics, that the majority of people presenting themselves for asylum here are not from countries where there is a war, or indeed any other internationally recognised human rights crisis that would justify such numbers.

There is no war in Georgia. There is no war in Albania. There is no war in Algeria, nor Nigeria, nor South Africa, nor Zimbabwe. This is where the majority of non-Ukrainians seeking asylum here, many of whom present no documentation on their arrival in Dublin airport, originate. It is simply unsustainable and unjustifiable that any state be expected to take an unlimited number of such economic migrants, while also fulfilling its commitments to persons genuinely fleeing the war in Ukraine.

The pile on against Crowe is remarkable not just for the reason that he is the first TD in good standing with one of the coalition parties to question the state’s capacity, but that it also highlights how few opposition TDs and Senators, other than those referred to above as well as a small number of others, have posed such legitimate questions.

Indeed, when Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh was asked for his reaction to Deputy Crowe’s statement on Raidió na Gaeltachta this morning his only response was to reiterate his party’s belief that there ought to be no limit on asylum seekers, and that the only issue seemingly is the need to ensure proper provision.

Which of course avoids the obvious paradox that there is a limit to any state’s capacity to do this. As indeed is recognised, at least formally, in the EU Directive governing the current situation. Cathal Crowe and other elected representatives are raising questions that are within the letter and the spirit of the relevant “EU Law” so revered across the political and media establishment.

Matt Treacy has published a number of books including histories of 
the Republican Movement and of the Communist Party of Ireland. 

Cathal Crowe And Others Are Perfectly Entitled To Question Ireland’s Migrant And Refugee Capacity

Caoimhin O’Muraile ☭ It was with a certain amount of sorrow and a hell of a lot of anger that I felt when I heard of the residents of the East Wall area of North Inner-City Dublin protesting against asylum seekers being housed in their area in an old disused ESB building.

It certainly came as no surprise these protests were taking place over the 26 county governments plans to house 380 asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Nigeria and other countries where terror appears to be part of these unfortunate’s everyday lives. 

What the government had not done, which was why the protests were called in the first place was hold consultation and dialogue with the residents over this mass movement of people under one roof into their area. It is not like getting new neighbours living next door: we are talking about a lot of people who the community knew nothing of. Parents are, rightly so, concerned about their children’s safety among other issues which were raising questions. Some legitimate, others perhaps being born out of fear and media propaganda. Either way surely the government had a responsibility to at least consult the residents about this migration of people into their area. Remember, consultation does not equal the same as negotiation, it does not mean the residents could veto the plan which they were not asking for, just to be kept in the loop so to speak. Instead, they felt were being rode roughshod over with no concern for them, the residents, from the government. This was the initial reason for the protest, lack of consultation and dialogue. They were not about “sending them back” which is something which has been imported in by far-right wing elements, fascist right, like the so-called Irish Freedom Party. It was only a matter of time before the far right made their move and this proved to be a pivotal point which had the government used a little common sense could have been avoided.

Now we have slogans like “send them back” and “get them out” all crap used by the fascists and hitherto not used by the residents, most of whom so far, do not want these fascist groups involved. I say most because a small element of locals would appear to be taking on board this Hitlerite rubbish, rubbish yes but dangerous rubbish all the same. Spokespersons for the resident have been on the news stating these calls by fringe groups coming in are “not what the protests are about” and that these organisations are not wanted here. 

However, and I am speaking from experience, what starts off as peaceful quite legitimate concerns and protest can, and all too often do, turn into a campaign against asylum seekers and immigration as a whole. The people of East Wall are not, to my knowledge and I live not far away, racist generally speaking any more than the rest of Irish society. Not racist Yet, because once these leeches from fascist groups like the IFP pedal their filth, not in the old skinhead street fighting way, but by seen as respectable and using what sounds like common sense talk. Even though it is Nazi propaganda dressed up, they can be and are very persuasive. People will listen to this trash unless a counter argument can be put forward, supporting the legitimate right to protest while at the same time countering these right-wing lies propagated by the far-right. 

All this because the government did not have the foresight, the foresight of a reasonably adjusted ten-year-old, to ask about the concerns of local people. The word “veto” has been used by Leo Varadkar on the news when he comes out with such statements as, “no residents can be allowed to veto these plans.” Well Leo, you less than intelligent man, nobody hitherto was asking for this right. It is you who has introduced this non-existent fear. Now why would you do that? Could it be, it would be in your cobbled together government’s interests to have a far-right backlash to divert attention from the mess you have made not only of the asylum seekers and refugees' situation but the provision of goods and services, from health to housing as a whole, to divert people’s attention from your own abysmal record? Could this be why you are introducing straw men, Leo? Only you know the answer and if it is true, you and your fellow TDs will never admit it. 

My advice to you, for what it’s worth, is do not do it because you could release a whirlwind of reaction which this country has no experience of handling! Take from that what you wish. By introducing the word “veto”, albeit in its pejorative sense Varadkar has used IFP language hidden in concern for the asylum seekers. When groups like the Irish Freedom Party talk of “veto” they’re referring to vetoing before expulsion. Varadkar did not mean it, I doubt, in that sense but nevertheless he has now introduced it into the discourse. During the 1980s Margaret Thatcher stole some of the fascist National Front’s clothing to wear under her own. This became a regular tactic of hers while at the same time claiming to “find the policies of the National Front abhorrent” while enacting some of these “abhorrent” policies herself.

The government minister responsible for this avoidable mess, and potential fascist recruiting ground is Roderic O’Gorman, 26 county Minister for Children, Integration, Disability, and Youth, has had leaflets delivered to the residents of East Wall and surrounding areas. They do address some of the residents' concerns and could be used in a positive way to benefit residents of the area, old and new. By new I mean the asylum seekers. The issue here is all this should have been done before the new arrivals were bussed in and a potential problem could have been avoided. Let us hope this is not a question of too little, too late! If the racists and fascists have already got their teeth into the community, I fear that could be the case.

I have seen this happen before in London’s East End when the Thatcher Government purposely did not engage with locals over the number of immigrants which were to be moved into their area. Areas like Tower Hamlets, Barking, and Dagenham did not know of the numbers and became a hotbed for the British National Party for a time. This was done deliberately by Thatcher, herself holding private fascist sympathies, to allow racial discontent and suspicion allowing hatreds to fester. I do not put Varadkar in her league, far from it, but he and the 26 county administration should learn from other countries experiences with this kind of thing. London’s East End had, have a proud history of left-wing fighting back against the establishment dating back to the Poplar Rent Revolt in 1921, the no pasaran campaign which in 1936 and led by Jewish and Irish groups along with socialists, communists, trade unionists and even some liberals stopped Mosley’s Hitlerite Blackshirt British Union of Fascists (BUF) at Cable Street. Suddenly those same areas became a hotbed for the fascists of the eighties for a time. Attitudes, irrespective of tradition can change, as happened in the East End.

East Wall also has a tradition of fighting back from a left-wing angle dating back to the 1913/14 Dublin Lockout and the 1916 Easter Rising. Christina Caffrey was born and reared at 17 Abercorn Street, East Wall. Christina was a confidant of James Connolly; she was heavily involved in the lockout and the soup kitchens along with other women like Helena Moloney, Rossie Hacket and many others. Christina was also a volunteer in the Irish Citizen Army and fought with the ICA in the Easter Rising. Her sister, Elizabeth, was a founding member of the Irish Women Workers Union along with Delia Larkin, the sister of “Big Jim” the ITGWU leader. 

So, like the East End of London, the East Wall has a left-wing tradition, a revolutionary history so do not allow these fascist interlopers, who care nothing for the residents of the area apart from using them as cannon fodder to promote their racist policies to stain that tradition, as the BNP did to the East End. They will hijack the campaign, if they already have not done so, for their own ends. They care no more for the residents than they do for the asylum seekers they are trying to deport. Countering the IFP is very important and do it quickly. Stop the fascists and stop them now is my advice based on experience. Concentrate on dialogue with the government, late in the day as it may be. 

Anti-fascists should be involved in the area supporting the residents demands for dialogue and consultation while at the same time countering the crap spewed out by the IFP. Unfortunately, I have already heard language used by the fascists, like “fuck them out”, and “send them back” and these are probably some more moderate orations used. This situation is potentially dangerous for both residents and asylum seekers alike, some who have already said the protests intimidate them. 

Get the fascist scum out of your areas, do not allow them to hijack your campaign and demands to be consulted. Failure to do so could be disastrous and everybody may live to regret it.

Caoimhin O’Muraile is Independent 
Socialist Republican and Marxist

East Wall Protests

Anthony McIntyre 🏴‍☠️ The day the music died was one of the thoughts to race through my mind on learning yesterday evening that Christine McVie had died. 


At 79 she had lived a long life. How much more can any of us squeeze out of it or heights can we scale once we reach those age peaks? Would we even want to? Woodie Allen once quipped that we could all live to be 100 if we gave up everything that would make it worthwhile living to be 100. Life is to be enjoyed not endured and some of the enjoyment I derived from life has come through music. Christine McVie takes a large part of the credit for that.

Described in the New York Times as "the serene eye of the storm in Fleetwood Mac, one of rock history’s most tumultuous and beloved bands," she seemed to have been around forever, having joined the band in 1970 after a two album stint with Chicken Shack where, as Christine Perfect, she really was perfect in her immaculate rendition of I'd Rather Go Blind. Chatting with my childhood friend on Twitter this morning I commented that she was singing that song while we were kids running the streets.  His response: 

Innocent children football football football and playing with Dets...Kids we were - the smell of damp burnt wood - I put my hand on a pillow soaked in blood - Falls Rd ... 1969 ... how were we to know - all we knew was football and more football.

Which would take us back to August 1969.  Even if the music has died that alone is illustrative of how long it lived.

Always one of the less flamboyant performers she revealed in 2017 that she was suffering from acrophobia upon leaving Fleetwood Mac, and had retreated into herself. The writer of You make Loving Fun and Oh Daddy, Fleetwood Mac Classics, she was part of the unforgettable Rumours album team, a body of music that I still listen to as I walk my dog along the Boyne. Perhaps more than any other song from her repertoire she will be remembered for writing Songbird in all of thirty minutes. That took just about as long as it took me to write this. This piece will be forgotten in thirty minutes. Her thirty minutes will endure for decades. 

Her bandmate Stevie Nicks would in 2013 reminisce about their partnership and friendship:

We felt like, together, we were a force of nature. And we made a pact, probably in our first rehearsal, that we would never accept being treated as second-class citizens in the music business. That when we walked into a room we would be so fantastic and so strong and so smart that none of the uber-rockstar group of men would look through us. And they never did.

What a talent. That voice might be silent but as a Led Zeppelin song put it The Song Remains The Same.

⏩ Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre.

Songbird

Lynx By Ten To The Power Of Three Hundred And Eighty Nine

 

A Morning Thought @ 1626

Seaghán Ó Murchú 🔖 answers thirteen questions in Booker's Dozen. 

 Reading Aloud And Allowed

TPQ: What are you currently reading?

SM: The Beatles/Tune In (expanded ed.) by Mark Lewisohn.

TPQ: Best and worst books you have ever read?

SM: Best: Ulysses by James Joyce. Worst: Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens.

TPQ: Book most cherished as a child?

SM: Scott's Standard Postal Stamp Catalog.

TPQ: Favourite Childhood author?

SM: J.R.R. Tolkien.

TPQ: First book to really own you?

SM: Selected Poems by Philip Larkin.


TPQ: Favourite male and female author?

SM: Male: Mario Vargas Llosa. Female: Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill.

TPQ: A preference for fact or fiction? 

SM: Friction?

TPQ: Biography, autobiography or memoir that most impressed you?

SM: Nothing To Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes.

TPQ: Any author or book you point blank refuse to read?

SM: Ayn Rand.

TPQ: A book to share with somebody so that they would more fully understand you? 

SM: Manchán Magan, Angels and Rabies: A Journey through the Americas.


TPQ: Last book you gave as a present?

SM: Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division by Peter Hook.

TPQ: Book you would most like to see turned into a movie?

SM: The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel.

TPQ: The just must - select one book you simply have to read before you close the final page on life.

SM: Mortality by Christopher Hitchens (to re-read...)

🕮 Seaghán Ó Murchú is a professor of Literature in Los Angelos. 

Booker's Dozen @ Seaghán Ó Murchú