Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘People’s Democracy’ Category

Institutionalized Sectarianism in the North of Ireland – Ian Paisley, Prayers for Partition, Marching Feet in Derry

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Today’s Stormont Administration is controlled by the Democratic Unionist Party, founded by far-right religious rabble-rouser Ian Paisley. Despite the honeyed words of today’s peace process, the Northern state’s government is choked by institutionalized sectarianism. Paisley’s spiritual children will descend on Armagh City on October 21 reciting prayers for partition.

October 11 1988 – Ian Paisley heckles the “AntiChrist” Pope in the European Parliament

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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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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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On the Turn to Industry, the American SWP and other questions of IMG history

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The IMG was the International Marxist Group, the British Section of the Fourth International (FI) in the 1970’s. This is an interesting Phi Hearse article for anoraks (!) who study the history of radical-left political currents. It analyses the Fourth International “Turn to Industry” Policy of 1979 and following years. This policy, in my opinion, contributed to a political decline of People’s Democracy (PD) in Ireland in the 1980’s – although that was not the only factor. We live and learn.

Others may make a different political judgement, and that’s OK. One of the FI people I worked closely with in the 1980’s was Gerry Foley, an early target of the American Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP), which drove the FI “Turn to Industry” Policy at that time. However, for most of the 1970’s, Foley and me were on different sides in FI debates, and did not agree about the history of that period. Some of Foley’s co-thinkers were known for endlessly going on about “the ultra-left turn” of the 1969 FI World Congress, and guerillaism. That all happened before I joined the FI in 1974, when that debate was on the way towards a reasonably amicable conclusion. Even more bizarre, rival groups went on and on about “Pabloism” – a debate belonging to the 1950’s! These days you still come across comrades endlessly droning on about the 1969 World Congress – some of these people, like me, were not directly involved in those discussions at all! So, I do not endlessly drone on about the 1979 “Turn to Industry”. – John Meehan

An update, two observations from an online discussion :

Liam Mac Uaid :

A couple of observations to supplement what Phil has written.

The turn made very little sense in Ireland at the time. It was a period of mass emigration from a country with a very small industrial base. This was accentuated in the north by the fact that most of the skilled industrial jobs were not open to Catholics.

I remember informing the branch that I’d got the job in the sewers. My mother had said to me something along the line’s of “Tommy’s niece’s husband is looking for men to work in tunnels”. I’d been reading a lot about Vietnam at the time and it seemed a useful revolutionary field of knowledge.

There were a couple of American SWP members at the meeting on the revolutionary tourist circuit and they were very impressed by this application of the line.

The American SWP’s influence was ultimately quite pernicious internationally. The Barnes leadership were imitating the Mormons and sending people all over the place. Along with the Ross group they were encouraging people in Ireland to liquidate into Sinn Fein. A complete political liquidation would have been the only way to enter an organisation controlled by the Army Council. Those who followed their advice and are still politically active became part of the Provie grantocracy. Though the political degeneration was pretty rapid.

My first few months in England were no fun. I got a job in a chemical factory where the least lumpen worker was in the National Front. It was simply what the job centre had given me. This would have been the SWP US dream, but it was grinding and futile. As Phil says, comrades who got jobs in unionised, strategic jobs were able to do useful things.

This Jim Monaghan observation adds another interesting jig saw piece to the picture we paint : “My partner, Jackie, had an argument in New York with SWPers, when they refused to accept that large sectors of industrial employment was barred for nationalists in the 6 counties.”

John Meehan :

I remember an interesting turning point at one meeting. I am unsure about the exact date. I will try to find it. I had been warning for a few years against the “turners” and the dangers of the American SWP policy. I was making little progress inside PD. Then Malik Miah and another SWP turner – I think his name was McBride – were over for a PD Conference. A group of PD comrades met these two Americans privately. This meeting was set up by two firm supporters of the American apparatus. The idea was to draw in extra supporters. The baptism and brainwash manoeuvre backfired. Quickly afterwards one particular comrade made his way to me in a very determined fashion. This was a revelation moment. This comrade, who rejected the road to political and personal doom was Trutz Haase, a German Born guy who had settled in Dublin. Trutz said to me – I did not believe what you were saying about the American SWP and the Turn up till now – but you are right! I think the Americans were advocating that comrades get jobs in “heavy industry” which a) did not exist in Ireland at that time and b) we were going through one of those regular bouts of hideous mass unemployment. Trutz became a very supportive comrade to me, but also a very close and supportive friend – that friendship endured long after he dropped out of PD.

The following was written by Phil Hearse, in April 2020, in response to comments on the Socialist Resistance discussion list. We are grateful to Phil…

On the Turn to Industry, the American SWP and other questions of IMG history

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/

CoVid-19 Has Taken Tarlach Mac Niallais From Us in New York – A Courageous Fighter from North Belfast who “Saved Sodomy from Ulster”

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We are starting to lose comrades and friends dying before their time. I met Tarlach a few times in the 1980’s, a courageous member of People’s Democracy, a brilliant up-front fighter for Gay Liberation Politics – and the then-partner of Fergus O’Hare. Huge condolences to Fergus who has suffered an awful sudden and unforeseen loss. Many tributes will be written about Tarlach. – John Meehan

Ian Paisley’s DUP Tried and Failed to “Save Ulster from Sodomy”. Tarlach Mac Niallais led the Counter-Charge – a Man who Saved Sodomy from Ulster.

The article below, from the Irish News, is great humane journalism. It brings us up close to the very harsh reality of a CoVid-19 Death.

I picked it up via a Facebook link supplied by Fergus, who offers these thoughts :

Comhbhrón ó chroí lena theaghlach agus lena chairde uilig faoi bhás Tarlach. Tá an saol níos boichte agus níos dorcha gan é. Ag caoineadh an chailliúint mhór seo.

Fergus O’Hare
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