The end of the 1960’s in northern Ireland were a unique time when, as elsewhere around the world, mass popular protest emerged onto the streets with ordinary people doing extraordinary things. The unique circumstances of northern Ireland and the particular form the state backlash took there resulted in a military conflict that lasted some 30 years and dominated politics on the entire island and to a much lesser extent in Britain. Although tens if not hundreds of thousands of people made this history it can also be told as the history of some of the prominent individuals involved, including the Irish republican socialist activist Bernadette Devlin McAliskey.
Early in 2011 I gave a talk via Skype to the Toronto Anarchist Bookfair in which I described some of the aspects of the anti-colonial struggle in Ireland that I thought has some particular relevence to the colonial situations of the America's in general and Canada in particular. The video was put on youtube in May and I had intended to find and tidy up the notes from the talk to publish here with the video but as 2011 is on its way out I'm going to post the video here as part of my end of year archiving / tidy up.
30 years ago a 27 year old elected member of the British House of Parliament starved to death in a prison run by the British state in Northern Ireland. Bobby Sands was the first of ten men to die, all of them jailed members of Irish republican organizations, 7 from the IRA and 3 from the INLA. The 1981 Hunger Strike in which they were engaged was the culmination of five years of struggle in the prisons of Northern Ireland for the return of Special Category Status. The death of Sands after 66 days on hunger strike was a transformative moment in Irish history although it would take over a decade for the full reality of that transformation to play out, and in a way that would almost certainly not have been to his liking.
As Gardaí go door to door in central Dublin trying to intimidate any residents who might be tempted to protest against the visit of the British queen, their colleagues in Britain have mounted raids on social centers and squats across London. Five social centers were raided this morning in London and over 60 anarchists have been banned from the centre of the London on the day of the wedding of Liz's parasitic offspring. Cops used battering rams to raid 3 further houses in Hove.
One of my ongoing 'I really should write on..' projects is an article on the Fenian's and the land League period in particular. Back in November I blogged notes I had done for an internal WSM branch talk on the topic and in the talk I did 'at' the Toronto anarchist bookfair last Saturday I mentioned them again. Then as it happened on Monday Fin, another WSM member, did another internal talk on the Land League in particular which touched on a numbers of areas / facts / perspectives that I had not considered to date. So below is a segment of my Toronto notes on the Fenian's followed by some of what I took from Fin's talk. Fin had the accompanying image in his talk which I found afterwards though google, its yet another British press propaganda image from the time which captures something of the alarm felt by the British state when faced with this mass militant movement.
Ireland has an indigenous revolutionary tradition that successfully mobilized tens if not hundreds of thousands in the struggle for more freedom over the 200 years since 1798. Irish republicanism has always included a radical democratic and leveling element and which continues to provide part of the culture of resistance of the most down trodden sections of the working class. Many believe this makes it the best base to build from, at the fifth Rethinking Revolution meeting Andrew Flood asked if they are right? This article contains the draft text of the talk and the audio recording of the meeting.
For some 66 years a secret underground revolutionary organization operated across the globe but in particular in Ireland, the USA and Britain with the aim of overthrowing British rule in Ireland. The activities which included repeated invasions of Canada, land war & rebellions in Ireland and the bombing of British cities led to the creation of the secret police in Britain (Special Branch), greatly accelerated the confederation of Canada into a single state and even played a part if the development of the submarine.
"I recently read a biography of the Young Ireland revolutionary William Smith O’Brien, leader of the 1848 insurrection in Ireland, sometimes disparagingly referred to as ‘The Battle of Widow McCormack’s cabbage patch.’ I’ve vague memories of being taught about it in school, the focus being on the arguments between Daniel O’Connell and the Young Irelander’s in the years before the rising with the details of the rebellion very much an afterthought, nothing in fact that I recall beyond that one battle. But the detail of this rebellion which took place during the Great Hunger that killed over a million has a lot to say about nationalism, republicanism and class and the way those tensions would play out over the next 150 years.
The reality of the Orange Order is that it is a counter-revolutionary institution set up and maintained to target not just Catholics but also 'disloyal' Protestants. It's formation and spread was encouraged by the British state in the years leading up to the 1798 rebellion precisely in order to drive a wedge between ordinary Catholics and Protestants. The 12th of July was picked as the key date to provide an alternative attraction to the marking of Bastille day and in itself to mark the sectarian massacre that led to the formation of the Orange Order.
In August of 1968 NICRA called its first march. 2,500 marched from Coalisland to Dungannon to protest against local housing discrimination.