Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘India’ Category

Electoralism: a real and present danger for the radical left everywhere – in Ireland the Dáil SPBP bloc avoids the trap : unconditional opposition to coalition with the FFFG et al right

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A publication in India, the Radical Socialist, offers a timely warning to radical socialists in every part of the globe :

Unless the lessons of the repeated political collapses in Sri Lanka are learnt, not only Sri Lankan Marxists, but those elsewhere in South Asia, who have learned also from the achievements of the Sri Lankan Marxists, may suffer politically. There is a need to examine, not merely in terms of mid 20th century history, but in terms of today’s class struggle, why the politics of electoralism, and of alliances with bourgeois parties (under the disguise that they are petty bourgeois parties, or ‘democratic’ parties, etc) can only lead to damages for the Trotskyist forces. We urge the Fourth International leadership to take it up as a burning political and educational issue, and take firm action. Collaborating with bourgeois oppositions is hardly restricted to Sri Lanka, and serious political discussions will benefit revolutionaries in India, at least.

What is the story in Ireland?

Gaining significant electoral victories is a key achievement of the radical left in Ireland since 1997, when Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party won a Dublin West Dáil seat. This electoral victory significantly helped to defeat government water charges plans promoted by the then main capitalist parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, which were aided by their serial coalition partners, the Labour Party.

Ups and downs in Irish radical left electoral fortunes have occurred from 1997 to 2020. This was an open question in 1997 : could the Dublin West victory of Joe Higgins be a minor Trotskyist blip on a stable bourgeois election landscape dominated by FFFG? It turned out this was not a blip. Higgins was the first TD who openly promoted a “Women’s Right to Choose” Abortion policy. He himself and members of his party actively promoted various pro-choice campaigns. The election of numerous radical left pro-choice deputies in 2011 and 2016 eventually forced the main right wing parties to allow a referendum repealing the anti-abortion 8th constitutional amendment. The result : a landslide victory for the pro-choice movement in Ireland and abroad. Here is one report written by USA activist Sarah Jaffe :

Today there is a 5 TD SPBP radical left bloc in Dáil Éireann. Three other deputies – Joan Collins, Catherine Connolly and Thomas Pringle – adopted the same anti-FFFGGG governmental policy as the SPBP bloc. This scenario was historic – it had never happened before, since the foundation of two partitioned states in Ireland nearly 100 years ago.

Government Coalition with the Right? : Ghastly Results Revealed

The policy of the Irish radical left on coalition with right wing parties is clearly explained here by RISE Dublin South-West TD Paul Murphy :

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State Services Versus Insulting Charity

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Acts of Defiance Against the British Empire – Rebels Struck for Freedom in Ireland and India 100 Years Ago – Connaught Rangers’ Mutiny and Udham Singh (The Patient Assassin)

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Conor Kostick, writing on the Independent Left website, offers us a fine history of the Connaught Rangers Mutiny 100 Years Ago. We should honour this action honestly, celebrating blows struck against the British Empire. Equally, we should honor the actions of Udham Singh, the “Patient Assassin” who executed William O’Dwyer, a Tipperary born British Army Officer directly responsible for the infamous Amritsar Massacre of 1919 in India.

Connaught Rangers in India, 1920 – Irish Rebels Desert the British Army – Haul Down the Union Jack and Raise the Tricolour

One of the most extraordinary acts of defiance against the British Empire took place in India on 28 June 1920 when four Irish soldiers, members of the British army, thousands of miles from home, decided to protest against the suppression of the independence movement in Ireland. The soldiers belonged to the Connaught Rangers and were stationed at the north of the country in the Wellington Barracks, Jullundur (modern day Jalandhar). At eight a.m. that morning, Joseph Hawes, Patrick Gogarty, Christopher Sweeney and Stephen Lally, all members of C Company, approached an officer they felt they could trust, Lance Corporal John Flannery, and told him that they wished to ground arms and cease fighting for the British Army due to the oppression of their friends in Ireland.

Some Historians – like Irish Establishment Representatives who attempted to stage a Commemoration of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) / Black-and-Tans – insult the Connaught Rangers’ Mutineers

Downplaying the extent of radical Irish nationalism in the mutiny

Conor Kostick Observes

One of the invited historians is Mario Draper, Lecturer at the University of Kent. Draper’s thesis is that the mutiny was less about Ireland than about discontent with local conditions. He dismisses the explicit testimony of the men that they were braving execution for the sake of Ireland’s national struggle as a ‘narrative of convenience’. In later life, he argues, these men were exaggerating the political side of their protest so as to get adulation and pensions. Instead, it was about local difficulties and poor communication between senior officers and the rank and file. Draper does not provide eye-witness reports to confirm an approach that would no doubt portray Spartacus as a gladiator who was merely disaffected over poor quality food, rather than the existence of slavery.

It is a profound insult to Joe Hawes and his comrades to doubt this was the real reason for the mutiny and to say that in later life they played up their desire to support Ireland’s struggle against the British empire because it suited their self-interest to do so.

Contemporary Evidence :

Veteran participants of the Connaught Rangers mutiny parade outside the GPO

Moreover, the contemporary evidence of the British themselves confirms that it was the mistreatment of Irish civilians that was troubling the hearts and minds of the soldiers. Lieutenant-Colonel H.F.N. Jourdain, wrote to the London papers, saying that the men had been ‘led astray by the accounts they had received about the Black and Tans.’ If the real issue behind the mutiny was local discontent why did the mutineers sing rebel songs? Wear green, white and gold rosettes? Fly the tricolour? During the court martial, the men from England who joined the mutiny were asked why they had protested on behalf of Ireland. None of them replied that they had other grievances. Rather, they expressed loyalty for their Irish comrades and sympathy for Ireland.

It is unlikely that the Connaught Rangers who mutinied in 1920 will get the 100 year commemoration they deserve from the current event. Hopefully, relatives who have organised in a Facebook group will be able to arrange an event with a more inspiring message than, ‘it was only really about the men being given too much work’. And Councillor John Lyons of Independent Left will be urging Dublin City Council to the same.

The mutiny of the Connaught Rangers was an incredibly brave and principled act on behalf of Ireland’s struggle for independence, one that was almost sure to lead to the participants facing the firing squad or many years in prison. That the men were willing to make this stand, rather than continue to serve an army behaving brutally in Ireland, should be properly honoured in 2020.

Glasnevin Cemetary monument in honour of the mutineers of the Connaught Rangers

An Irish Traitor called Sir Michael O’Dwyer, the Amritsar Massacre in the Punjab, India, and a hero Udham Singh.

Decent people in Ireland should erect a monument in a prominent place honouring Udham Singh.

Sir Michael O’Dwyer was 75, a grandee of British imperialism. Few there noticed the one Indian man in attendance who arrived in late and sidled his way up to the front. Proceedings had just ended when the man walked straight up to O’Dwyer and shot him twice through the heart

O’Dwyer’s killer, Udham Singh, is a hero in India. The date of his death is a national holiday in the Punjab. Last year a statue was unveiled in the Jallianwala Bagh, the walled garden which is the site of the Amritsar massacre. It depicts Singh with his fist clutching a sod of blood-soaked earth. According to legend, Singh witnessed the Amritsar massacre and vowed from that day forward he would track down the men responsible for the foul deed.

Udham Singh Executes Sir Michael O’Dwyer

After a long and tempestuous life in the service of British imperialism, Sir Michael O’Dwyer had got used to a quiet life.

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Blue News for Fine Gael – 85% Want X Case Legislation

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The latest credible Sunday Business Post Opinion Poll shows the Fine Gael-Labour Coalition would lose office if a General Election was held soon. In addition 85% of people polled favour abortion legislation on the X Case Supreme Court Judgment. As usual Adrian Kavanagh has published an excellent analysis – Paddy Healy and this writer have submitted comments.

Irish Politics Forum

Adrian Kavanagh, 1st December 2012 

Tomorrow’s Sunday Business Post-Red C poll offers grim reading for Fine Gael, with the party support levels down six percentage points on the previous such poll.  This poll puts national support levels for the main political parties and groupings, and relative to the most recent Sunday Business Post-Red C poll on 28th October 2012, as follows: Fine Gael 28% (down 6%), Labour 14% (up 1%), Fianna Fail 20% (up 1%), Sinn Fein 17% (NC), Green Party 3% (up 1%), Independents, United Left Alliance and Others 18% (up 3%). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fine Gael 53, Labour 21, Fianna Fail 36, Sinn Fein 25, Green Party 1, United Left Alliance 4, Independents and Others 19. 

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Written by tomasoflatharta

Dec 3, 2012 at 12:28 am

Shame on an Irish Government that will not Legislate for Abortion – Again

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Abortion – the campaign won’t go away. National Meeting on Saturday December 8 in the Gresham Hotel, O’Connell Street, Dublin at 12 noon.

The Cedar Lounge Revolution

Outside The Dail tonight after Clare Dalys Bill was voted down.

Just adding Clare Dalys speech from last night in the Dail

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Written by tomasoflatharta

Nov 29, 2012 at 8:18 am

Savita’s Laws

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Large Demonstration Outside Leinster House on Wednesday November 21 –

Legislate for Abortion Now

Clare Daly has re-tabled her bill to legalise abortion, which will be debated next
Wednesday.   ULA members distributed literature calling for another demo to coincide with the
legislation debate.

Praveen Halappanavar did an interview on RTÉ tonight calling for legalisation of abortion,
and thanking the over 10,000 people who demonstrated in Dublin last Saturday.

This crowd was overwhelmingly made up of people in their 20’s and 30’s, a big majority of
them women.

The government is still in a very deep crisis.

The public arena is transformed: see for example this pro-choice article by Vincent Browne
in the Irish Times :

International Day of Action for legal Abortion in Ireland

Written by tomasoflatharta

Nov 21, 2012 at 11:49 pm

Ireland’s abortion standoff – Al Jazeera Coverage

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Ireland’s abortion standoff

A link to Al Jazeera’s coverage is here :

Written by tomasoflatharta

Nov 21, 2012 at 12:13 am

Global Coverage of Savita Halappanavar’s Avoidable Death in an Irish Galway Hospital

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“As the news of Halappanavar’s death was reported via newspaper front pages on Tonight With Vincent Browne on TV3, and across Twitter on Tuesday night, reactions almost uniform in their sadness, anger and outrage turned to organising demonstrations both in memory of Halappanavar and against the delay in legislating on the ‘X Case’, which international readers can learn about here. By Wednesday evening, protests had already taken place in Ireland, and Halappanavar’s death and the surrounding issues were being covered internationally.”


Never Again – Savita Sought an Abortion in a Galway Hospital – Irish State Said No – 3 Days Later She Died

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Months ago ULA TD Clare Daly TD proposed a new law to implement the 1992 Supreme Court Judgment in the X Case. 20 Dail Deputies voted Yes to Clare’s bill – they have nothing to be ashamed about. 111 Deputies, mainly Fine Gael and Labour Government Deputies, voted against the X Case Bill. Shame on them. Time for a new emergency bill – never again.