Ireland

The James Connolly Reader

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The legacy of James Connolly, Ireland’s pre-eminent Marxist revolutionary, has been appropriated and sanitised by every political tradition including the Irish state to such an extent that his historical role has often been obscured. Shaun Harkin’s selection of Connolly’s writing shines a penetrating light through this fog and allows him to speak for himself.

Ireland: the border is the problem

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One of the ways that Brexit negotiations are breaking down is over Ireland. Yet much of the discussion ignores both imperialist history and the consequences for working people.

At first glance the shape of the border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the country makes no sense. It is a squiggly line stretching 310 miles from Lough Foyle in the north west to Carlingford in the east. It follows no natural boundaries and cuts across 180 roads. Donegal is indisputably in the north of Ireland, but not part of Northern Ireland. Neither was the border based on the division of Ireland into four historical provinces with Ulster as the northern one. Three counties of Ulster — Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal — were excluded from the newly created statelet.

Repeal: a victory for women everywhere

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The impact of the historic vote for abortion rights in Ireland last month was felt worldwide and is a real blow to the religious right. Socialist Review spoke to Sinéad Kennedy, Co-founder of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment about the campaign that inspired and involved so many.

It was a stunning vote, why was it so successful?

Well, it’s difficult to say. At the moment we are still trying to assess it. Certainly it was a larger Yes vote than we had ever imagined. The information that’s beginning to come out suggests people had been making up their minds not just over the last weeks but over the last few years.

Northern Ireland Executive impasse

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Talks to re-establish the Northern Ireland Executive after more than a year’s stalemate have collapsed. The Guardian editorial put the blame unequivocally on Sinn Fein: “The darker truth here is that Sinn Fein has chosen to weaponise the language question for political ends, less to protect minority rights than to antagonise unionists.”

This assessment could not be further from the truth. An agreement had been reached by all parties which included a proposed Irish Language Act.

Tories Brexit Blues: A European crisis

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The dominant narrative of the political establishment and its various media echo chambers is that the European Union has Britain over a barrel as the Brexit negotiations stumble towards the end of their first phase.

The reality is more complex. The Tory crisis is real enough, but it is to some extent mirrored by the situation of Europe as a whole, if not in its economic manifestations then certainly in its political ruptures.

Struggle or Starve

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The dominant narrative in Northern Irish politics from both imperialist and nationalist perspectives is the existence of two tribes with separate and incompatible interests. We have argued that unity between Protestant and Catholic workers was not only possible in the North of Ireland, but had been realised, albeit too briefly, in the dock labourers’ strike of 1907, the engineers’ strike of 1919 and the unemployed workers’ strike and riots in 1932. It is the last of these that Seán Mitchell’s marvellous new book bears witness to.

Martyred for Irish liberation

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There is a long history of Irish workers organising alongside their English comrades and of anti-Irish feeling dividing the working class. One hundred and fifty years ago three Irish men were hanged by the British state on trumped up murder charges. Delia Hutchings tells the story of these Manchester Martyrs.

On 23 November 1867 Michael O’Brien, Michael Larkin and William Allen were hanged. They had been found guilty of murdering British police officer Sergeant Charles Brett while taking part in an audacious plan to free two leading Irish Nationalists from a police van. They are known as the Manchester Martyrs.

On 11 September 1867 Thomas Kelly and Timothy Deasy were arrested for loitering in Manchester. It was several days before the Manchester police realised that they were holding the leadership of the International Republican Brotherhood — the Fenians.

Hesitant Comrades

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Given that Ireland was officially part of the UK until 1922 and that many British unions organised in Ireland, not to mention that large numbers of Irish workers lived in Britain, you might assume that the struggle for independence was a major issue for the British labour movement of the day. In fact, as this book brings out, it was an embarrassment for the leaders of both the Labour Party and the trade unions.

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