Tomás Ó Flatharta

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Manus O’Riordan has passed away

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Here is a preliminary tribute written by Des Derwin, and a report describing his funeral

Trade unionist, socialist, historian, researcher and singer Manus O’Riordan has died. A keeper of the memory of the Spanish Civil War, and of the music of the movements.

Trade unionist, socialist, historian, researcher and singer Manus O’Riordan has died. A keeper of the memory of the Spanish Civil War, and of the music of the movements.

It is only hours, according to Facebook, since Manus O’Riordan posted on his page. It is less than three months since he stood with the wide spectrum of the left at fellow historian Rayner Lysaght’s funeral. Manus shall have as great a send off. Since then I spoke to him briefly near Hart’s Corner, where he lived and where he had some memorials erected. (Manus O’Riordan is pictured carrying a banner honouring Irish anti-fascists who fought against Franco in the 1930’s Spanish Civil War – in Glasnevin Cemetery at the funeral of Rayner Lysaght https://tomasoflatharta.wordpress.com/2021/07/05/rayner-lysaght-has-passed-away-limerick-soviet-historian-a-parent-of-modern-irish-trotskyism/

I differed profoundly with Manus on many issues and strongly agreed with him on many others. In the ITGWU and SIPTU he always showed the greatest respect to me and to my minority views. He cooperated on labour and anti-imperialist history with all those on the left providing a historical forum.

In the past fortnight I finally completed noting my political reminiscences of my own father, who was a one-time colleague of Manus’ father.

Passing on and passing it on. RIP. Des Derwin September 27 2021

Update : the funeral of Manus O’Riordan, Glasnevin Cemetery, Friday October 1 2021

Some images from the funeral of Manus O’Riordan. Friday October 1 2021. Among the attendance was Tara, carrying the shopping bag of the occasion. It can be bought at the Bang Bang Café, Phibsborough. Also present was Michael D Higgins, President of Ireland – currently popular with nearly stream of the Irish Left after refusing to attend a religious ceremony in Armagh celebrating a “Carnival of Reaction” 100th Anniversary : the partition of Ireland in 1921. There were many displayed Trade Union and left wing banners at the funeral, honouring a dedicated historian of the Irish working class. See also https://tomasoflatharta.wordpress.com/2021/09/29/the-fascist-origins-of-fine-gael-in-the-1930s-manus-oriordan-one-of-his-last-posts/

Michael D Higgins, President of Ireland
Banners honouring Manus O’Riordan

Rayner Lysaght has passed away – Limerick Soviet Historian, a parent of modern Irish Trotskyism

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Rayner Lysaght; January 30 1941 – July 2 2021

Most readers of this site probably know the sad news that Rayner Lysaght passed away on Friday July 2 2021. He was born in Llanishen, Cardiff, Wales, on January 30 1941.

Here is a link to the death notice :

https://rip.ie/death-notice/rayner-daniel-o-connor-lysaght-killester-dublin/463010

People can add condolences, if they wish.

A wide range of people from the left and the workers’ movement have written generous personal tributes. A number of them are here https://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2021/07/02/d-r-oconnor-lysaght/

People in Dublin may wish to join friends and comrades lining the route holding banners and tributes aloft. I will be bringing a Starry Plough and Fourth International banner. People might like to assist.

Rayner Lysaght was a long-standing supporter of the Fourth International, a founder-member of its Irish Section – the Revolutionary Marxist Group, in 1971 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolutionary_Marxist_Group_(Ireland)?wprov=sfti1

The cremation ceremony starts at 2.00pm, so try to get to Glasnevin Cemetery at least 15 minutes before that time.

Anne Conway reports on Rayner’s life and death.

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Ernie Tate’s “Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s and 60s”

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Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s and 60s, Volume One, Canada 1955-1965By Ernie Tate268 pages. Resistance Books. $15.00 Revolutionary Activism in …

Ernie Tate’s “Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s and 60s”

Ernest (Ernie) Tate was born in 1934 in the Shankill Road, heart of Protestant Belfast. In 1955 at the age of 21 he migrated to Canada and within a year had become a member of the Canadian Trotskyist organisation, the Socialist Educational League.

Louis Proyect writes a wonderful tribute to Tate, one of the founders of the British International Marxist Group and the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign in the 1960s, who has died from cancer at the age of 86 at his home in Toronto. He played a vital role in a campaign that would re-shape the British far left.

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Pat O’Connor 1948-2015, Limerick Socialist, Supporter of the Fourth International

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cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2020/12/07/left-archive-pat-oconnor-limerick-based-socialist-1948-2015-published-2015/

Recently, following prompts by Pádraig Malone, I forwarded material celebrating the life and political activities of the late Pat O’Connor to the Irish Left Archive site.

A 21 year old Pat O’Connor is holding the placard saying “PD [People’s Democracy] Opposes Racism”. 1970 demonstrations against the touring South African 
All-White Rugby Team.

Readers can find links to to that material in two PDF’s below. The pamphlet link includes the text of a speech I delivered at a 2015 memorial meeting for Pat. A second link is a copy of an obituary submitted to the Limerick Leader newspaper written by myself and Cian Prendiville.

John Meehan December 7 2020

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Fascinating Extracts from a Stalin Biography – Mao got a lucky break – he was almost selected for a part in one of the infamous 1930’s Moscow Show Trials

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Victor Osprey reports :

Interesting passage from the second volume of the Stalin biography by Kotkin.

Especially notable here: after Hitler came to power, 41 of the 68 German Communists who fled to the Soviet Union would be put to death there.

When plans were made for a public trial of “Trotskyite-fascists” in the Comintern, it appears Mao was put on this tentative list of “Trotskyites”.

A West Belfast Republican Funeral Breaches CoronaVirus Restrictions – Trouble Ahead

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The Sinn Féin organisers of Bobby Storey’s West Belfast funeral on June 30 2020 got plenty of advance warning – which they chose to ignore.

Suzanne Breen set the scene in the pages of the Belfast Telegraph :

Sinn Fein has adopted an uncompromising approach to fighting coronavirus in Northern Ireland. On school closures, workplace regulations and much more, the party has rightly insisted that health and safety trumps all else.

The funeral of Bobby Storey should be no different. No ifs, buts or maybes. It doesn’t matter that he was Sinn Fein’s northern chairman, spent 20 years in jail, or has heroic status for some in the republican community.

The same guidelines that apply when ordinary folk die apply to Bobby Storey, too. Just imagine the outrage there would be in the nationalist community if loyalists flouted the rules for a UDA or UVF funeral? https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/comment/sinn-fein-should-set-example-at-bobby-storeys-funeral-but-its-a-case-of-do-as-i-say-not-as-i-do-39319738.html

Dominic Cummings moments in the six county statelet :

Sinn Féin  President and  Vice-President  Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill
Bobby Storey’s Funeral in Belfast

PBP Belfast Councillor Matt Collins observes

At the risk of sounding repetitive I will make the point again….

The only people in Belfast who have been systematically targeted with fines, cautions and prosecution threats from the PSNI for breaching the regulations during this crisis have been BAME protestors taking part in safe, socially distant Black Lives Matter protests.

Such a fact— in a majority white city with tonnes of examples of proportionally different police treatment to other gatherings — is discrimination by definition.

People should be shouting loudly about this. Those in power keeping quiet about it are increasingly becoming part of the problem in my opinion.

The double standards were also highlighted by Vincent Doherty.

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Bobby Storey has passed away – Suzanne Breen reviews the life of a Peace Process IRA soldier

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Most lives contain a mix of the Good, Bad, and Ugly. The long war in the bit of Ireland 🇮🇪 directly controlled by Britain 🇬🇧 finished in the 1990’s, and was, according to the Official Version (OV), replaced by peace. We are all expected to go along with the OV, while the British and Irish ruling classes protect their own interests. We are supposed to Keep Up Appearances (KUA)!

OV’s and KUA are politically lethal. People rise to the top who are masters of loyalty to leadership hierarchies, which protect reactionary unethical behaviour. Bobby Storey was a very talented man. According to former Long Kesh prisoner Anthony McIntyre Storey held his nerve during a daring 1983 prison escape :

McIntyre said that when the 1983 escape started going wrong after the prisoners reached the Maze tally lodge Storey took control of the situation. “He held it together, thought on his feet, and directed people as to what to do. I later asked him how he’d managed that. He said he had been as terrified as everybody else, but the trick lay in overcoming those feelings and getting the job done.”

Storey probably masterminded the 2004 Northern Bank robbery and a 2002 IRA raid of British Secret Service Headquarters in Castlereagh. In both instances the Peace Process motored along very smoothly. KUA triumphed. The organisation which robbed the bank raid and broke into Castlereagh was supposed to be on a ceasefire. And there was a dark side – Bobby Storey was totally loyal to a party leadership which protected its own interests. Gerry Adams never had to account for the disappearance of Jean McConville. How much else is hidden from view?

Keeping Up Appearances – the Chuckle Sisters

Bobby Storey, and his organisation, prop up a Stormont Parliament in Belfast, run by a corrupt politician called Arlene Foster, responsible for a major financial scandal, the Renewable Heat Initiative (RHI). Keeping Up Appearances.

After Bobby Storey’s death, his republican organisation sheds another republican principle – abolition of the non-jury Special Criminal Court in the 26 County State. Keeping up appearances, as the facade crumbles : https://tomasoflatharta.wordpress.com/2020/06/24/abolish-the-special-criminal-court-it-will-die-if-an-irish-government-is-not-formed-on-june-30-but-sinn-fein-and-the-labour-party-are-riding-to-rescue-it/

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Bobby Storey Was Gerry Adams’ Beria | The Broken Elbow

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Ed Moloney compares Bobby Storey, the lieutenant of Former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams with Lavrentiy Beria, the number two of Russian dictator Josef Stalin from the late 1930’s till he was executed in infamy after Stalin’s death in 1953.

Beria had a grisly CV

Beria attended the Yalta Conference with Stalin, who introduced him to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt as “our Himmler“. After the war, he organised the Communist takeover of the state institutions in Central Europe and Eastern Europe and political repressions in these countries. Beria’s uncompromising ruthlessness in his duties and skill at producing results culminated in his success in overseeing the Soviet atomic bomb project. Stalin gave it absolute priority, and the project was completed in under five years.After Stalin’s death in March 1953, Beria became First Deputy Premier of the Soviet Union and head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In this dual capacity, he formed a troika, alongside Georgy Malenkov and Vyacheslav Molotov, that briefly led the country in Stalin’s place. A coup d’état by Nikita Khrushchev, with help from Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov in June 1953, removed Beria from power. He was arrested on charges of 357 counts of rape and treason. He was sentenced to death and was executed on 23 December 1953.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavrentiy_Beria?wprov=sfti1

Bobby Storey’s CV is not pretty, especially in relation to the people “disappeared” by the IRA in the 1970’s. Another Beria? Stalin’s lieutenant was a much more sinister figure.

I also suspected then and more so later, that such was his uncritical adoration of the Big Lad that he was either naive in the extreme about Adams, what drove him and where he was going politically, or that he chose cynically to ignore the obvious.

My suspicions in this regard were rooted in  the episode I know best about Storey’s relationship with Gerry, and that was about the disappearance of Jean McConville.

In pursuit of the fiction that none of this had anything to do with him, Adams had given Storey the job of finding out what had happened to Mrs McConville, who had been involved in her disappearance and, most importantly, where her remains had been buried.

This was at a point in the peace process when clearing up the issue of the ‘disappeared’ had assumed urgency and priority, so much so that Bill Clinton had taken sides in favour of justice for the disappeared.

For Adams to ask Storey to find out what happened to Jean McConville was like Stalin asking Beria to discover who gave the order to bury an icepick in Trotsky’s skull. Gerry knew, and knows more about what happened to Jean McConville and why, and who was involved in her ‘disappearance’ and how, than anyone still living.

When Storey went to interview Dolours Price he was, according to her account to me, astonished to hear her side of the story, which was of course that Gerry had given the order to ‘the unknowns’ to send Jean McConville to her maker. Clearly Gerry had denied all knowledge and put the blame on others, especially Ivor Bell, a line the British state and their police chiefs dutifully followed in later years.
— Read on thebrokenelbow.com/2020/06/21/bobby-storey-was-gerry-adams-beria/

Many loyal Sinn Féin supporters will not care :

The RUC, who rarely made any secret of their hatred for Storey, had no doubt that he was one of the planners behind the Provos’ mass breakout from the Maze in 1983 when 38 terrorists escaped after a prison officer was killed.

Storey later described the escape as a “great achievement” for the IRA, who he said had “shafted Margaret Thatcher”.

Detectives were also convinced that Storey was the principle organiser of the Northern Bank robbery in Belfast in 2004 that netted the IRA £26million.

But he was never charged in connection with it.

And although he spent a total of 20 years behind bars, Storey had an uncanny record of eluding convictions on a litany of other terrorist charges down the years.

Police claimed witnesses were too scared in some cases to testify against him. 

But Sinn Fein claimed police operated a policy of internment by remand for Storey who was a lifelong republican from a republican family.

Talking about his life in a rare interview, Storey said his family had to move when he was a child from their north Belfast home after loyalist attacks on their area.

And he claimed that it was the bombing of McGurk’s bar, where 15 people were killed in 1971 and Bloody Sunday just a few months later, that shaped his future, prompting him to join the IRA at the age of 16.

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/the-hardest-of-hard-men-bobby-storey-was-feared-by-opponents-and-republicans-39303502.html

Lessons?

The leader is not always right. Leadership cults should be mocked.

Armando Iannucci relentlessly tears the Stalin cult to pieces in this film.

And, we should honour the memory of many innocent victims whose lives were wrecked by Lavrentiy Beria.

Brilliant Mockery of the Stalin Cult

Lavrentiy Beria and his loyal Stalinist killers

“It is the Henri Weber who sang the Internationale with Higelin that we mourn, not the one at the service of the political apparatus of the PS” – Life of a French Activist who shifted from Anti-Capitalist Revolution to Pro-Capitalist Submission

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Often at Irish funeral wakes some people say “Never speak ill of the Dead”. They do not mean a word of it. Mourners relax, dump the fake insincere bland and pious words, and talk about the real person they knew, the Good, Bad, and Ugly sides.

One period in the life of Henri Weber is celebrated in this obituary, a life of revolutionary activism shaped by the May 1968 uprising in France.

Henri Weber, a Revolutionary in the 1960’s

In the 1980’s a second period began in the political service of social liberalism, which is not celebrated. Henri Weber died from the CoronaVirus as the Great Depression of the 2020’s started to cause global havoc. We will continue to lose people who are dying before their time.

Henri Weber was born in Leninabad (now Khujand), Tajikistan, Soviet Union on 23 June 1944. His Polish-Jewish parents had left Poland at the time of the German-Soviet pact but, refusing to become Soviet citizens, were sent to labour camp where he was born. They returned to Poland after the war but four years later left because of prevailing anti-semitism and moved to France. As a student in Paris Weber was recruited by Alain Krivine and became a leading member of the Jeunesse Communiste Révolutionnaire (JCR) and of the Ligue Communiste (subsequently Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire LCR), French section of the Fourth International. In the early 1980s he ceased political activity and in 1986 joined the Socialist Party. A member of the leadership of the Socialist Party, he held elected positions as a senator (1995-2004) and then as a member of the European Parliament (2004-2014). He died in Avignon on 26 April 2020 from coronavirus. [IVP]

I knew Henri as a JCR activist in the years 1965-67. In the period after May 68, we were fairly close, since I was a student at the university of Vincennes where he was an assistant lecturer in the philosophy department. It was at this time that I had to coordinate the student sector of what was to become the Ligue Communiste. At the end of the Mannheim congress, I became a member of the central committee of the League (1969-70) following a proposal which he initiated. But in the framework of the activities of the defence service of the League, for which I was for a time responsible along with my brother Alain, Michel Récanatti and Romain Goupil, we worked a lot on projects of demonstrations and political events which made the League well known, and it is for this double reason that I saw a lot of Henri.

Henri was one of the leading figures of the JCR, along with Daniel Bensaïd, Janette Habel, Alain Krivine, Pierre Rousset, and in a less public way Gérard de Verbizier. They were the embodiment of this organization which came from the fight against Stalinism, solidarity with the colonial revolution and systematic anti-capitalist and anti-fascist activities, which stood out by its sense of political initiative, its dynamism and its fighting spirit, without sectarianism. Henri and his comrades had anticipated, already in 1967, the role of “sensitive plate” that the student movements could play. They perceived the embers which were heating up under the leaden shell of Gaullism and the inertia of the union leaderships and the PCF. In the demonstrations, they pushed for the radicalization of struggles and supported strikes which escaped the shackles of the union bureaucracies. May 9, 1968, when the JCR opened up its meeting to the movement and where Bensaïd, Weber and Cohn-Bendit rubbed shoulders, illustrated this absence of sectarianism. Unlike the “maos” who two days later invited the students to put themselves at the “service of the people” rather than building barricades, the Lambertists of the OCI, who in their logic of pressure group on the trade union apparatuses counterposed the “general strike” to the battles of “petit-bourgeois students ”and the activists of Voix Ouvrière (ancestor of LO) who learnedly explained that the battles in the Latin Quarter were only a “straw fire” with regard to the struggle of the proletariat, they understood that the straw fire was in fact “the spark that would set the plain on fire”! And when 1968 exploded, Henri and his comrades were ready, they were the ones who could be found on the barricades and in confrontations with the cops (alongside the anarchists). They knew that going to the barricades was in fact the way to the general strike. Henri was one of those who had the political intuition to understand that the events of 1968 opened a historic moment.
— Read on www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php

In the service of “those who led to the catastrophe that we know”.

The loss of his convictions led to a withdrawal from militant political activity and a gradual bifurcation towards the paths of social respectability, then to an increasingly close proximity with social liberalism, from Fabius to Hollande. Even though he maintained friendly personal relations with his former comrades, he put his talent and his rhetoric, which had become an empty shell, at the service of the political apparatus of the Socialist Party , which had long since taken on board the standards proper to the Bonapartist state. Once he had changed course, he went far down this route. The saddest thing was to see him sometimes summon the ghosts of revolutionary strategy to justify submission to those who led to the catastrophe that we know.

Today we will leave the eulogy of his renouncement to the chorus of defenders of these modern times. It is the Henri of the fight for emancipation that we mourn, the comrade, Tisserand and Samuel, the one with whom we trod the streets, La Jeune Garde in his shoulder bag, the one who sang the Internationale with Jacques Higelin, the one who was part of the youth that Liebknecht said was the flame of the revolution.

Tarlach Mac Niallais Radio Broadcast from 1984 – Gay Liberation Politics, the Partition of Ireland, Fighting Against a Carnival of Reaction

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Previous Readers of this blog know about the New York Death of Belfast Gay Liberation and Socialist Activist Tarlach Mac Niallais. Thanks to an old friend and comrade of Tarlach, Cathal Ó Ciorragáin, we can listen to a New York Radio Interview with Tarlach dated October 9 1984

The interview concludes with a ballad sung by Tarlach.

https://tomasoflatharta.wordpress.com/2020/04/04/covid-19-has-taken-tarlach-mac-niallais-from-us-in-new-york-a-courageous-fighter-from-north-belfast-who-saved-sodomy-from-ulster/