Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘Sinn Féin’ Category


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Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre are pleased to announce that they are opening a second front in their fight to prevent the Police Service of Northern Ireland gaining access to the Belfast Archive at Boston College. In addition to the legal action currently ongoing in the federal appeals court in Boston, they have this week filed papers in the Belfast courts seeking a judicial review of the PSNI action alleging that the UK authorities are in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights and the British Human RIghts Act of 1998. The Judicial Review asks that the British Home Office’s request of assistance from the United States be quashed, the subpoenas be declared unlawful, a discontinuation of the PSNI’s application for the material, and for an injunction stopping any material from Boston College being received by the PSNI. The two legal actions in Belfast and Boston emphasise our utter determination that the enormously valuable historical documents in the Boston College archive will never fall into the hands of anyone except those authorised by the terms of the solemn and unbreakable contracts we made with the interviewees. Ultimately these papers tell a part of Ireland’s recent troubled history and they should be used for no reason other than to educate and inform. Read the rest of this entry »


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Tommy McKearney is an opponent of monarchy! It seems this is a controversial policy in unexpected places these days. “Sinn Féin Councillor blasts McGuinness handshake” – Councillor Michael MacMahon told the Donegal Democrat,

I am not in favour of this meeting by a long head – I think it is wrong, it is premature and a step too far.

“I feel that I have a responsibility to remind people that this is the very person that decorated the paratroopers that killed innocent victims on Bloody Sunday.

“She is also responsible as Commander in Chief of the armed forces for the continued occupation of the six counties. Martin McGuinness should be asking the British Government and the Queen what is the real position in relation to the Six Counties. By meeting with the Queen he is acknowledging her as Head of State in Northern Ireland and giving legitimacy to the situation.

Donegal Sinn Féin Councillor Blasts McGuinness Handshake

Under the radar we read about Elizabeth II’s son :

Cost of Prince Charles rises to £2.2m

Charles Windsor the British Royal – Living off Increased Public Spending

Anti-Monarchists in Britain are not impressed :

Republican campaigners called for an urgent review of royal finances and an “end to the ‘something-for-nothing’ culture in the royal household”.

Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic, said “Year on year, Charles continues to spend more public money on travel, much of which is for personal trips. When the country is facing sweeping cuts to public spending, Charles Windsor wilfully helps himself to whatever travel funds he wants or feel he needs.

This episode demonstrates that today’s Sinn Féin is capable of more turns to the right – nothing can be ruled out – the next major step will be entering a coalition government with Fine Gael – why not? : Kenny’s Party is on the same right-wing wavelength as Mr Robinson’s Democratic Unionist Party.

In the shorter term Sinn Féin anticipates electoral gains from its nationalist rivals, the SDLP, which holds two Westminster seats – Foyle and South Down – because Unionists “lend” their votes to Mark Durkan and Margaret Ritchie because of Sinn Féin’s republican past – and we move closer to a two-party sectarian state in Northern Ireland.

It is a change from the one-party sectarian Orange State that ruled the roost until the Civil Rights Mass Movement broke the sectarian spell in 1968 – but also smells like “back to the past” – as one cynical old joke said : “Remember 1690 – the last time the workers in Belfast got a rise”

Another take on Northern Ireland Sectarianism, yesterday and today :

Conor Murphy, the recent Sinn Fein Minister for the Department for Regional Development (DRD), was found by a Fair Employment Tribunal to have engaged in unlawful religious discrimination in appointing a Catholic to Chairman of Northern Ireland Water in a case taken by one of the Protestant applicants…. Even in the dark days of Unionist discrimination during the previous Stormont regime pre-1972 I can recall no case of a Minister and senior civil servant being implicated through exposure of such high profile discrimination. It was actions like these that led to the civil rights movement and the fall of the old Stormont. Yet there have been no words of criticism from the rest of Sinn Fein and in fact two Sinn Fein Ministerial colleagues of Murphy’s were consulted by him in making the appointment. Murphy has continued to deny his guilt although it is impossible to believe that the evidence and judgement of the Tribunal would not be accepted by Sinn Fein if it involved Unionist discrimination against Catholics.

A Sinn Féin Minister, Conor Murphy, Guilty of High-Profile Discrimination?

Northern Ireland is changing :  A one party Orange Sectarian State from 1922-72 is today becoming a two-party Orange-Green sectarian state – the head-of-state (Elizabeth Windsor) shakes hands with the elected chiefs, carries on living the high life on public money, decorates Murderers (provided their actions are sanctioned by the British Military), while austerity is dished out to the masses.

John Meehan

Update 1

Sinn Féin Lisburn Councillor Angela Nelson Resigns over McGuinness Handshake :





Last week, Martin Mc Guinness met with the British Queen in Belfast. That “gesture” was not the result of full consultation or open debate in the party as claimed by leadership.
Pearce Doherty, TD , previously articulated Sinn Féin’s position regarding such visits by British royalty to Ireland, particularly one by the Commander in Chief of Britain’s armed forces – until such times when there would be a complete withdrawal of the British political and military presence from Ireland, and truth and justice given to victims of collusion, no welcome should be accorded to British royalty or any officer of Britain’s forces.
Last year, republicans correctly decided not to greet Britain’s head of state or acknowledge her claim of sovereignty over part of our country.
On 10th June this year, Caral Ní Chuilin denied that Sinn Fein would attend the jubilee celebrations. On 11th June, Martin Mc Guinness said a meeting would be a huge ask but there was “no doable” proposition for this. All this information came to party members via the media.
I was confident that no meeting with the Queen would occur as no open debate was taking place within the party.
On 21st June, a text message informed me of a meeting for Belfast and Lisburn councillors in the City Hall for a ‘briefing’. I instinctively knew it related to the visit. Past experience with these types of briefings indicated a deal was already done.
That morning, one of my colleagues arrived and I asked what information he had. I expressed my opposition to meeting with British royalty. I decided not to attend the briefing but, over the next two days, consistently voiced my opposition to any such meeting to party colleagues. On the second day, while in a party office, the media confirmed Martin Mc Guinness would meet the Queen.
On June 23rd, I attended a non-party political protest in Belfast addressed by families of victims of British State violence. Standing in solidarity with them, their pain and suffering was very tangible.
Eamon Cairns, speaking of the murder of his two sons, Gerard and Rory, in their family home, finished with this very poignant sentence: “It makes it very difficult for me to see how Martin Mc Guinness can go behind doors and shake the hand dripping with the blood of my children”.
His words reflected the views of many both inside and outside Sinn Féin.
I have always been able to hold my head up as a Republican. I have met and maintained contact with many relatives of dead volunteers and those murdered through collusion and British state violence.
I could not set all those to one side through acceptance of the party leadership’s most recent ‘symbolic’ ‘significant gesture’.
I joined the Republican Movement in 1970. The objective of a 32 County Socialist Republic was the basis on which our struggle was built. Many people dedicated their lives to securing that objective. Many others died for it.
Many people influenced my thinking over the years, a lot of them strong principled republicans, many of whom paid the ultimate sacrifice for their beliefs.
I acknowledge that many people, including many innocents, lost their lives. War is a terrible thing and many families are today without their loved ones. Irrespective of whether they are from Derry, Ballymurphy or Kingsmill; their grief is the same.
I am not opposed to peace or Unionist outreach. I’m involved in a project to enhance “cross community engagement” to reduce sectarianism. That project’s work was recognised at The Aisling Awards in 2011 when it received the award for “Outstanding Community Endeavour”.
I make no apologies for being a Republican.
As Republicans, we oppose monarchy in all its forms.
As Republicans, we have no need to meet a British monarch, the Commander-in-Chief of Britain’s armed forces, while our country remains partitioned and many people are denied truth or justice about the deaths of their relatives by that same monarch’s government responsible for those murders.
Reluctantly, I have no option but to resign from Sinn Fein, a party I first joined 42 years ago.
I will remain as an Independent Councillor and continue to represent my community as I have done for the past seven years. I wish to reassure those people who elected me that I will represent their interests and will endeavour to carry out my duties to all my constituents to the best of my ability.
My contact details can be accessed through Lisburn City Council.
Le meas, Angela Nelson.

Originally posted on Pluto Press - Independent Progressive Publishing:

Tommy McKearney

In a guest post Tommy McKearney, author of The Provisional IRA: From Insurrection to Parliament, argues that the handshake between Martin McGuinness and the Queen was political theatre and that the focus of the media on it distracts attention from the real problems facing the people of Northern Ireland.

Britain’s monarch visited Belfast on Wednesday and shook hands with Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister in the local devolved regional assembly. Throughout Northern Ireland the level of unemployment is as high as it was prior to the royal visit, security walls to keep neighbours apart are as permanent as they were before Elizabeth arrived and Northern Ireland’s local media has returned to reporting the usual tensions generated by the Orange Order in the run-up to the annual battle of the Boyne celebration on 12 July. In other words and in spite of the media ballyhoo, it is business as…

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Written by tomasoflatharta

July 3, 2012 at 12:23 am

ULA Conference: ‘Co-operation not competition’ – Statement from Paddy Healy and the South Tipperary Workers and Unemployed Action Group

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The statement below was circulated by Paddy Healy this week and is, Tomás presumes,  the position of the South Tipperary Workers and Unemployed Action Group going into the conference on Saturday.

It’s good to see the WUAG engaging like this with the ULA at large and doubly so given the content of the statement.

Huge Obligation and Opportunity for ULA as Sinn Féin reiterates its willingness to enter Coalition Government with any Party

Paddy Healy

Because of developments in the national and international economic and political crisis there is a huge obligation on ULA and on its components to make significant progress in its mission to politically reorganise the Irish working class in its own interest. The Irish Labour Party is once again in coalition government with a right-wing party. On this occasion the government is not just failing to introduce improvements for workers but is openly attacking all the gains made by workers over decades. If ULA can rise to its historic task the Labour Party could be wiped out and above all fail to recover from this period in government.

Following the recent rise of Sinn Féin in the polls, the party leader reiterated its willingness to enter coalition with any political party. This guarantees that sooner or later that party will go into oblivion sharing the same fate as Clann Na Poblachta and the Workers Party. But much damage could be done before then. The commitment of Sinn Féin to coalition confirms that it is no longer a revolutionary nationalist party. Read the rest of this entry »

Gerry Foley 1939 – 2012 : An American Revolutionary Inspired by Irish Rebellions

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Gerry Foley 1939 – 2012 : An American Revolutionary Inspired by Irish Rebellions

Many thanks to friends and comrades on the Cedar Lounge Site for publishing a tribute to an old friend and comrade, Gerry Foley. Here is an article from March 1996 where Foley analyses the state of the “Peace Process” in Ireland after the IRA had broken its ceasefire and started a bombing campaign in England. Two key points are highlighted here :

There is a well-established pattern in the long history of Irish republicanism that when the movement loses its momentum or its perspective in Ireland it turns to bombing England in the hope that scattered explosions in the imperial heartland will have a political effect greater than anything that can be achieved in Ireland. Such a course was followed in the name of the “Skirmishing Fund” in the 1880s after the Land League struggles were defused by a reformist leadership and at the end of the 1930s when the IRA was torn apart by unresolved political differences and lost its direction.

The movement found itself in a blind alley when it proved unable to
widen the political breakthrough that it had made in 1980-81 as a
result of the mass movement in support of the ten Republican prisoners
who starved themselves to death one after the other in protest against
the British machinery of repression. 

This was the basic political context in which Republican leadership
began negotiations with the British authorities in 1990, which led to
the IRA ceasefire on August 31, 1994.
 John Meehan April 23 2012  

What's behind the breakdown of the Irish Peace Process?
by Gerry Foley 
The Irish "peace process" was not ended by the flurry of IRA bombings
in London in February. At the end of the month, the British and Irish
governments announced agreement for the start of all-party talks --
including Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican political organization -- on
June 10. 

So-called proximity talks -- that is, indirectly involving Sinn Fein --
were to be held in March 4-13 to prepare for a new round of

As a condition for including Sinn Fein in the June talks, London and
Dublin insisted on a resumption of the IRA ceasefire. Gerry Adams,
president of Sinn Fein, and John Hume, leader of the bourgeois
nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), met with the IRA
leadership to discuss renewal of the "peace process." 

The IRA response was noncommittal, obviously reflecting an uneasiness
in the Republican movement over where the peace process had been
leading. The IRA statement, released February 29, said: "We listened
attentively to the case presented by both leaders and noted their
shared commitment to restoring the peace process... 

"For our part," the IRA leadership continued, "we restated our absolute
commitment to our republican objectives, which include the free
exercise by the Irish people of our inalienable right to national

"We also took the opportunity to reiterate what we said on February 9
[the date of the statement declaring the end of the ceasefire],
stressing that a resolution of the conflict in our country demands
justice and an inclusive negotiated settlement without preconditions. 

"We pointed out to Mr. Hume and Mr. Adams that the failure of the
British government to put in place inclusive negotiations free from
preconditions, the abuse of the peace process by the British over 18
months, and the absence of an effective and democratic approach capable
of providing an irrevocable momentum towards a just and lasting peace
in Ireland, were the critical elements which led to the failure, thus
farm, of the Irish peace process." 

The conditions that led to the "peace process" still exist. The British
government and its pro-imperialist allies in Northern Ireland have not
crushed the insurgency of the radicalized section of the nationalist
population in the Catholic ghettos. 

On the other hand, the military campaign of the IRA has been
effectively contained by the massive British military machine.
Politically, the militant nationalists have been clearly isolated and
on the defensive for many years. 

In a blind alley

The movement found itself in a blind alley when it proved unable to
widen the political breakthrough that it had made in 1980-81 as a
result of the mass movement in support of the ten Republican prisoners
who starved themselves to death one after the other in protest against
the British machinery of repression. 

This was the basic political context in which Republican leadership
began negotiations with the British authorities in 1990, which led to
the IRA ceasefire on August 31, 1994. 

On February 9, 1996, the IRA leadership announced that it was ending
the ceasefire. Their statement said: "The [ceasefire] presented an
historic challenge for everyone, and an Oglaigh na hIireann [IRA]
commends the leaderships of nationalist Ireland at home and abroad. 

"They rose to the challenge. The British prime minister did not.
Instead of embracing the peace process, the British government acted in
bad faith with Mr. Major and the Unionist leaders squandering this
unprecedented opportunity to resolve the conflict.... 

"We take this opportunity to reiterate our total commitment to our
Republican objectives. The resolution of the conflict in our country
demands justice. It demands an inclusive negotiated settlement. That is
not possible unless and until the British government faces up to its

"The blame for the failure thus far of the Irish peace process lies
squarely with John Major and his government." 

This statement was followed within hours by the explosion of a truck
bomb outside a large building in the Docklands area of London. The
blast was claimed by the IRA. 

On February 15, a small bomb placed by the IRA in a phone box in
London's theatre district was defused by police, following an IRA

On February 18, a bomb carried by an IRA operative on a London bus
exploded prematurely, killing him and injuring several passengers. 

According to accounts in the British press, about a third of the IRA
men killed since the start of the insurgency in Northern Ireland have
died in premature explosions of their own bombs. This figure attests to
readiness for self-sacrifice of the Republican volunteers but not to a
high degree of military organization. 

That is understandable. The IRA is based essentially on a small
impoverished community that is under the constant surveillance of one
of the world's biggest and best equipped professional military forces. 

A well-established pattern

What is decisive for the IRA, therefore, is the political impact of its
actions, and in particular the effect on the morale of its activists
and supporters. 

There is a well-established pattern in the long history of Irish
republicanism that when the movement loses its momentum or its
perspective in Ireland it turns to bombing England in the hope that
scattered explosions in the imperial heartland will have a political
effect greater than anything that can be achieved in Ireland. 

Such a course was followed in the name of the "Skirmishing Fund" in the
1880s after the Land League struggles were defused by a reformist
leadership and at the end of the 1930s when the IRA was torn apart by
unresolved political differences and lost its direction. 

This pattern tends to recur, despite the fact that its political
effects on British and international pubic opinion have always been
negative. On the other hand, these actions have served as a symbol of
indomitable resistance for Irish Republicans themselves. 

In the present situation of the peace process, however, the Republican
strategy is to use the pressure of international public opinion to
induce the British to give concessions to the nationalist people. In
this respect, it is hard to see how the London bombings could have any
effect other than to weaken the political position of the Republican

That point was made in fact in two quite long letters published in the
February 29 issue of An Phoblacht/Republican News, the weekly newspaper
of the Republican movement. 

In one of them, a Republican political prisoner in England, Joe
O'Connell, wrote: 

"For the IRA to order a resumption of war until it is promised a date
for all-party negotiations -- something which is achievable under the
now binned peace process anyway -- must surely go down as the most
stupid, blinkered and ill-conceived decision ever made by a
revolutionary body anywhere ever before in history." 

Given the intense pressures on the Republicans in the wake of the
London bombings, publication of these letters must have been a
carefully considered political decision. 

Endless "talks about talks"

On the other hand, in the same issue of An Phoblacht, the editorial
touched on the nub of the problem: "So the convoluted progress of the
peace process continues with yet more convoluted language.... 

"Republicans should welcome the fixed date for all-party talks, but
essential guarantees must be in place.... Sinn Fein cannot sign up to a
process which underpins the unionist veto [e.g. the veto of the
pro-imperialist settler caste that is a majority in Northern Ireland
but a minority in Ireland as a whole] and partition.... 

"On Wednesday evening, in the aftermath of the communique, Unionists
signalled that they will not move beyond the first item on the agenda
-- in effect, decommissioning [the IRA surrendering its weapons] --
until it is resolved. 

"In fact, David Trimble went further and said that his party will not
meet face to face with Sinn Fein until the issue is resolved. How then
can there be all-party talks?" 

To sum it up, the peace process has become a labyrinth in which the
Republicans find themselves becoming more and more lost, further and
further from the goals of their struggle, and without even any real
alleviation of the repression from which they have been suffering. 

That is obviously the reason why the IRA statements kept repeating that
the movement is going to stick resolutely to its goal -- a united
Ireland free of imperialist domination. 

One might think something else from the Sinn Fein leaders' exaltation
of "peace" as the greatest of "sublunary blessings," and from the "hand
of friendship" that Adams has extended even to British Prime Minister
John Major. Since the IRA have suffered most for the movement's goals,
obviously they feel the drift from them most acutely. 

In this regard, the new promise of "all party talks" solves absolutely
nothing. In fact, it appears only to be a continuation of the British
delaying tactics designed to exhaust the patience of the militant
nationalists and provoke them into desperate acts that can be exploited
to further isolate and demoralize themselves and their supporters. 

Increasing frustration

The critics in the February 29 An Phoblacht of the IRA's resumption of
military action were quite correct about the effects of these actions.
What they failed to recognize is that they are absolutely inevitable if
the "peace process" talks about talks keep dragging on with no results
expect increasing the confusion and frustration of the nationalist

In fact, the new agreement for talks is between the British and Irish
governments, in which Sinn Fein is included as basically a juvenile
delinquent ward of the Irish government. Dublin effectively promised to
get the Republicans to mind their manners in order to be accepted into
talks, and thus is now twisting their arms harder and harder. 

After the end of the IRA ceasefire, the Sinn Fein leadership called for
public pressure for a resumption of the peace process. 

On the weekend of February 24-25, in fact, there were demonstrations of
tens of thousands of people in Ireland for peace. But Sinn Fein found
itself mingling with forces that were demanding a peace that meant
simply condemnation of the IRA and abandonment of the goal of national

The IRA itself, while impatient with the "peace process," has still not
challenged its basic premise, the "nationalist consensus" -- that is, a
bloc of all nationalists, including the Dublin government and the
bourgeois nationalists of the SDLP. That is the nub of the problem. 

The Republicans recognize there is a contradiction between the British
imperialist and all nationalists, including the bourgeois nationalists.
After all, the bourgeois nationalists rule in the name of the goal of
Irish independence. But they have decided to forget that they live by
selling out Irish nationalism. 

Thus, the contradiction cannot be exploited simply by hobnobbing with
them. That means that they pull the Republicans rather than the other
way around. 

The only way to exploit the contradiction is to expose the bourgeois
nationalists' false pretences of defending the interests of the Irish
people. But this requires mass campaigns against the most acutely felt
concrete effects of imperialist domination, not abstract appeals to the
bourgeois nationalists' presumed love of peace and sense of
responsibility, or concern for the fate of their compatriots. 

The civil rights struggle that led to the insurgency in Northern
Ireland and assured its continuation for more than 25 years shows what
can be accomplished by such a course. 

It was the failure of the Republicans to set in motion such a process
in the South after the end of the 1980-81 hunger strikes that led them
into their present predicament. 

Gerry Foley was International Editor for Socialist Action USA when this article first appeared in March 1996.

Originally posted on The Cedar Lounge Revolution:

On foot of the sad news that Gerry Foley has died here’s a few pieces relating to him and his life. As a socialist with a profound interest in Ireland and matters Irish and as the author of a number of pamphlets directly linked to that his views of the situation, particularly in the early to mid 1970s are of particular interest.

We start with with a letter from a comrade of his reflecting on his passing and his life.

Dear Comrades,

I just learned from Gerry Foley’s friend in Mexico that Gerry died  suddenly today in Mexico. Gerry called me a few days ago to say that  he was happily moving from his rented home in Mérida to a happy home  in San Cristobol de Las Cases, in the mountains of Chiapas.

Just a few moments ago Gerry was walking into his house. He fell down  and died almost immediately…

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Violent Legacy of Irish Troubles, British Double-Standards – Boston College Row Revisited

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Ed Moloney’s Irish Echo Editorial (an Irish-American Newspaper) on the Boston tapes controversy is required reading for all people genuinely interested in dealing with the violent legacy of the Northern Ireland Troubles (1969-1998, signing of the Good Friday Agreement).

Two key quotes :
Number 1 :

But the war has now ended, peace reigns and there is a desperate need for dealing with the past in a way that solidifies that peace and ensures an untroubled future.

The British have chosen a way that does the opposite. The Boston College subpoenas symbolize an approach to this issue based on revenge and the view that alleged combatants in that war should be dragged before the courts, convicted and jailed.

Number 2 :

There will be those, of course, who will say that if Gerry Adams did order Jean McConville’s “disappearance” then he deserves to be prosecuted. In a normal society, one ruled by a normal government, that would be a difficult argument to answer. But Northern Ireland is not, even with the peace process, a normal society and nowhere is this more evident than in the administration of justice.

The plain, undeniable fact is that there are double standards in the way justice is doled out in Northern Ireland.

Read, Circulate, and Act.

Originally posted on The Broken Elbow:

Irish Echo
Editorial | By Ed Moloney | March 14th, 2012

Slowly, but inexorably, the penny is dropping, both here in the United States as well as back in Ireland.

The Boston College subpoenas seeking access to oral history interviews with former IRA activists on behalf of the police in Northern Ireland are about the dumbest things that have ever happened in the long relationship between the United States, Britain and Ireland.

The difficulty is not how to describe why they are so dumb, but in counting the ways in which they are so dumb.

First of all, this is not the way in which to heal a conflict like that in the North of Ireland.

Over 3,000 people died and tens of thousands were scarred, physically and mentally, by a war that was undoubtedly one of the longest and most violent, if not the most violent in Irish history.

But the…

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Belfast to Boston Via Afghanistan

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Eamonn McCann has written a fascinating account of former Royal Ulster Constabulary Officers who urged a legal assault on the Boston Archive in order to settle old scores :

Getting Gerry Adams

Norman Baxter’s Long Crusade

Well worth reading :


Mr Baxter was part of the police team that unsuccessfully investigated the 1998 Omagh Bombing.


“Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey” – An exploration of Mass Action Politics

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Mass action in Ireland in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s comes across vividly in Lelia Doolan’s Documentary “Bernadette – Notes on a Political Journey” which is screened on the Irish Language Channel TG 4 on Monday January 30

Here are some reviews :

If you have not already seen this documentary – don’t miss the TG4 Broadcast.

If you have seen it – watch it again!

Bernadette Devlin, A Fearless Socialist

John Meehan January 28 2012


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