Report on Costello Commemoration

John O'Neill johnfergaloneill at eircom.net
Mon Nov 4 19:25:59 MST 2002


I was in two minds if  I would make any comment on the above posting. I was
a member of the WP in Ireland that was a direct descendent of the OIRA
tradition.

First, some points of fact I think are relevant. Danielle posted another
loosely related item on the list, I refer to the post 'a stick to be beaten
with' that I found refreshingly honest. It is almost impossible to capture
the depressingly cruel and murderous essence of intercine feuding. The PIRA
and OIRA were all comrades in the 1950's. The OIRA and the INLA were
comrades in the late 60's early 70's ( I have been informed that many of the
most vocal anti PIRA elements of the OIRA went on to join the INLA).
Furthermore, many families, especially in Belfast where the Republican
Movement was based around a handful of families, were split. A pal of mine
his father was PIRA, he and his brother were OIRA, his cousin was INLA. This
is quiet common.

My own family, while based in the Republic and immune from the feuds, was
similar. My father CPI, mother Cumman na mBan, uncle INLA?/IRSP and aunt
IRSP.

During the feud the INLA had murdered the OIRA O/C in Belfast ( after a
ceasefirehad been brokered) and attempted to kill the General Secretary of
its political wing in Dublin (shot 7 times, but he survived). Anyway, the
murder of  Seamus Costello for some time was disputed. Firstly it was
reported in the media that a disaffected INLA member was responsible later
it was blamed on an OIRA member in the Sunday Tribune by Vincent Browne who
was all but named in the article. As a result of this article, the man was
murdered some years later.

Costello's death elevated him to 'sainthood' within the IRSP. I agree he was
a good organiser, a pretty decent speaker, but I doubt if he was the deep
marxist thinker that the IRSP claim. His brand of work with the masses was
pretty standard to social republicanism of the 70's. The WP built itself on
the same activism and it is similar to the work being done in working class
areas by Sinn Fein now.

The point I want to make is that the only hand that was strenghtened during
all the feuds was the hand of the British. The actual feuds rarely lasted
very long but the bitterness is still fresh in many peoples minds and the
losses suffered still felt by all.

As to the OIRA being "counter revolutionary", I disagree (I would, wouldn't
I) but then I would concede that a lot that happened shouldn't have on all
sides and the period of feuding was the darkest and most counter
revolutionary.



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