RS and 'Ripening of Time'

Philip Ferguson plf13 at it.canterbury.ac.nz
Sat Feb 2 00:23:33 MST 2002


Liam wrote:
>There was in Ireland an Althusserian  group circa 1975-1985 called
>"Revolutionary Struggle". It was a weird group of obscure Algerian origins
>and was lead by a Greek guy (I think).

I've no idea why you call them 'Althusserian'.  I also don't know where the
idea of 'Algerian origins' comes from.  My impression was that they were
more inspired by the Red Brigades with a bit of Stalinism thrown in.

'Nick the Greek' - I never heard anyone refer to him by any other name -
was the dominant figure, and other well-known figures included Ursula Barry
(as you note) and Pauline Jackson.  The latter's real surname was something
else, but she took Jackson from the Soledad Brothers.

'Nick the Greek' was always regarded with a great deal of suspicion by
republicans, who tended to think he was an agent of some sort.

RS had a rather ignominious end.  They set up the Dublin Resource Centre at
6 Crow Street in the central city.  It had a number of co-ops, but next
thing you know Nick the Greek and a few cronies were trying to privatise
some of the co-ops.  There was a split in the DRC and Nick the Greek and co
were rebuffed and I think he just disappeared.  (Some years later, by the
mid-90s, most of the DRC was being privatised and that whole building is
now much a part of the yuppified inner-city area.)

Several members of RS, most notably Terry Moore (a sister of
singer/songwriter Christy Moore) and Sean Murphy, joined Sinn Fein in the
mid-late 80s.  I was very friendly with Sean, who was involved in the
printing co-op at the DRC.  I got to know him through the anti-extradition
campaign.  He did a lot of free work for us.  Also, him and I initiated a
committee to run a 'Freedom Week' to celebrate the Easter Rising, around
1988 or 1989.  Later this took off with people like Robert Ballagh and co
and the 75th anniversary events in 1991.

In fact I may have influenced Sean's decision to join SF, as when I first
met him he had some weird ideas that SF was inhospitable to revolutionary
socialist politics.  (Actually, that only came much later.)

Him and I and a few other people also tried to start a publishing co-op to
reprint classic republican texts, but it never got any further than
producing a run of postcards.  Sean stayed in SF for about two-three years
and then dropped out.  Terry was heavily involved in the SF Education Dept,
working with Rose Dugdale and Jim Monaghan.  She left around the time the
leadership began the big lurch to the right and Rose and Jim were
effectively purged (although they later recanted and are now back
in).  Except Jim is banged up in Colombia as you know.

Don't know what Terry is doing now.  She lived in Kildare when I knew her.

Ursula Barry became a left-feminist academic of some note.  She actually
wrote a couple of good books with lots of stats on Ireland - eg 'Who Owns
Ireland? Who Owns You?'  She lectured at a college in Dublin - but I can't
remember the exact name of it - National College of something or other.  I
think she lived down Ringsend way.  I recall visiting her house once about
getting her to speak at something.  She was quite sympathetic to SF,
despite her increasing immersion in feminism.

Pauline Jackson got some high-powered job at the EC, although I think she
later taught at Galway University.  Feminism also became her road to a
fairly lucrative career.

I used to have a few copies of 'The Ripening of Time', which Sean gave me.

Philip Ferguson

PS: Although RS were kind of semi-Stalinist, they actually conducted unity
negotiations in the mid or late 70s with PD, the Irish section of the
Fourth International (USec).  I think the Stalinist aspect came more from
people like 'Nick the Greek' than people like Ursula, Sean and Terry.





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