Ireland

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.

Revisiting Ireland's uprising

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Kieran Allen's book 1916 examines the legacy of the Easter Rising. He spoke to Socialist Review about revolutionary Irish politics then and now.

Let’s start with the recent Irish elections. It was marvellous to see an increase in the number of socialists in the Dail [parliament]. Also the two main right wing parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, saw their combined vote drop, continuing a 30-year trend.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have dominated Irish politics since the Civil War of 1922-23. They used to get about 85 percent of the votes of the Irish people and they are now down to about 50 percent.

Flamboyant rebel woman

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A century ago Constance Markievicz was preparing for the Irish Easter Rising. Mary Smith outlines the remarkable life of an upper class woman who was both a paramilitary leader and the first woman MP.

Countess Constance Markievicz was a brave and flamboyant rebel, a traitor to her upper class background and an uncompromising revolutionary for most of her life. Her extraordinary life also exemplifies a more general truth: namely that in revolutionary upheavals women come to the fore in the struggle and in the process challenge their own oppression and subordination.

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