The Lost Revolution launch - history of Official IRA and Workers Party

Last night I went to the launch of a new history of the Offical IRA and the Workers Party called ‘The Lost Revolution’ by Brian Hanley and Scott Miller.  I've been wiaiting for a detailed history of the Workers Party to be written for a long time and I knew Scott was working on one.  I've only read the first couple of chapters so far but from these, what people have been saying about it and the huge crowd that turned up for the launch it looks very promising.  I'll probably write a review or at least a blog on the book itelf when I finish it.


International readers might like to check the wikipedia entry on the Workers Party but in summary the party developed out of the republican movement in the 1960's, becoming known as Official Sinn Fein (and the Official IRA, its military wing) after the 1970 split which saw the formation of the Provisional IRA and Sinn Fein.  After achieving considerable success in community organising, influence in the unions and getting seven TD's elected the Official Republican movement (a handy catch all term that avoids specifying whether your referring to the political party of the illegal armed wing) split again with 6 of the 7 TD's departing to form Democratic Left and then joining the Labour Party.

There was standing room only in the hall as there was a huge turn out of ex and current members of the Workers Party as well as members and ex members of just about every other left and republican group including from those groups the Officials had armed feuds with.  There were serious armed conflict with both the Provisional IRA and the IRSP/INLA which split from the Officials in 1974, these saw many deaths and dozens of injuries.  The atmosphere in the hall was very emotional, reflecting in part the very difficult history that the book is telling in detail for the first time.

About a dozen WSM members turned up for the launch - most of them too young to remember any of this directly but including an ex WP member and an ex IRSP member.  To an extent organised anarchism in Ireland emerged out of the Workers Party, the first groups in the 1970's including a number of people who'd left the Officials.  The book apparently mentions the resignation letter of one.  Today the membership includes ex members of all the significant left and republican groups.

Scott and Brian were researching and writing the book over the last 5 years, it comes in at just over 650 pages.  I'm looking forward to it because whatever the many problems with both the politics and methods of the Officials they also made significant break throughs in a number of areas that can still be learnt from today.

 

Lost Revolution - History of the Workers Party - launch in Dublin by Andrew Flood on Mixcloud

 

The notes below are my very quick summary of some of the areas talked about by the speakers, they are followed by a link to the audio recording I made of the talks

Diarmaid Ferriter, Chair of Modern History UCD
terrific atmosphere in here, a testiment to the commitment people have had to change Ireland
we are living in difficult times
the authors have managed to untangle the web of the Official IRA and Workers Party from late 60's on
10 years after the border campaign Mick Ryan after a national tour of the IRA said 'there is no movement', Cathal Goulding replied "there is a fucking movement", the authors suggest these sort of frank exchanges were need to rejuvinate movement
the books transmits the sense of being part of a worldwide movement in 1968, on the verge of profound change
book is a reminder of the lost opportunites of those years
tremendous sadness in the book about the violence and feuds of 1970's
it covers the debate about waging a 'clean war', was this ever a possibility or was it just an excuse
the Aldershot bombing and 'mistakes'
the drowning out of the intellectual debates in the sound of gunfire
much of what was said then now sounds absurd
the Provisional v Official feud of October 75 that left 11 dead and over 50 injured
Seamus Costello and the EU referendum
the emergence of SFWP after 1977 and the influence on the unions
the continuing activities of 'group b'
Eoghan Harris and 'attempts to change the script'
The 1989 election and the 'breadth of fresh air'
Being on the verge of a new left alliance
the continuance of 'special activities'
journalists doing their job
an attention to detail that never becomes overbearing

Brian Hanley, author
it was humbling to be welcomed into the homes of people we had never met before who were willing to share documents and memories
I hope we have done justice to their story
There is a tendency to sneer at the Irish left as headbangers - I hope no one comes away from our book thinking these people were mad

Scott Miller, author
thanked particular people in the audience whose lives are tied into the republican movement
Lost Revolution was written as a narrative, not a critique
Sean Garland lives under fear of extradition to USA on very dubious charges, he wants to live out his old age in peace in his own land.

Audio of Diarmaid Ferriter, Brian Hanley and Scott Miller launching 'The Lost Revolution : The Official IRA and the Workers' Party' first published on indymedia.ie

WORDS Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )

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 Some further thoughts in an

 Some further thoughts in an attempt to encourage discussion over at the moderated Anarchist Black Cat forums - http://www.anarchistblackcat.org/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=5027

  


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