Irish feuds and futures

Philip Ferguson plf13 at student.canterbury.ac.nz
Tue Nov 5 12:52:11 MST 2002


John O'Neill:

> 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.


The issue here is how and why the feud began.  The I- after the Provos
overtook them in the north - that they had made a mistake in allowing
the Provos to get off the ground in the first place.  They weren't about
to allow another split, this time a split that was clearly and
unequivocally to their left, to develop into a political rival.  The
Officials thus launched armed attacks on the IRSP/INLA.  It's hardly
surprising, in that situation, that the Irps responded - primarily by
targeting the Officials responsible for the killing of the first lot of
IRSP/INLA members.

However, as John notes, the people who benefit most from such feuds are
the Brits and they also have every interest in stoking them.
Thankfully, the feuds seem to be a thing of the past - all sides seem to
have matured politically and learnt the lessons.

The issue now is how to move forward on the basis of
socialist-republican politics.

In relation to Seamus Costello, I think it would be good if left-wing
people who have been, or are, involved in the Workers Party actually
gave some acknowledgment that Costello was a truly fine revolutionary.
I think the judgement of Nora Connolly (James Connolly's daughter) that
Costello was the most significant republican to really grasp what
Connolly was on about and try to build on a Connolly-type basis is
important.  Incorporating Costello's legacy seems to be to be quite
important in the development of a socialist-republican movement in
Ireland today - and by using the term 'sociaist-republican movement' I
am including people outside the IRSP/INLA, since most
sociaist-republicans in Ireland probably don't belong to it.

Hopefully, everyone serious about revolutionary socialism in Ireland
these days is thinking seriously about how to unite the different
socialist-republican remnants of the past 30+ years conflagration.

Wouldn't something like trying to organise an open conference of Irish
revolutionaries some time next year, with an organising committee drawn
from the IRSP, Fourthwrite/IRWG, Bernadette and any other
socialist-republican elements (including WP if they have moved away from
Eurocommunism and back towards socialist-republicanism), and a fairly
open agenda be useful.  These kind of initiatives actually seem to be
popping up around the place - eg the Liam Mellows gathering some months
ago - so it might be time to move towards a national conference to
discuss what has happened over the past 30-35 years, the relevance of
Connolly today, and the way forward.

I almost wish I was there to be involved in this. . .

Philip Ferguson

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